VYTAUTAS AND JAGIELLO, I
The Angevin Dynasty's Failure
At mid-century in the 1300's the dominant powers in East Central Europe were represented by two dynasties, the Angevins and the Luxemburgs, both immigrants from the west, the former coming to Hungary from France via southern Italy, the latter from the French/German border to Bohemia by way of election as Holy Roman Emperor. Louis the Great of Hungary became King of Poland, thanks to his marriage to the sister of Casimir the Great, the last legitimate male of his line of the Piast dynasty. Charles IV of Luxemburg extended his inheritance into an empire that stretched from Brandenburg down into Silesia, Moravia and Bohemia.(1)
The courts of these two dynasties became famous for their lavish encouragement of the arts, chivalric entertainment, and intellectual life. Prague and Cracow were filled with foreign visitors, commercial activity, and the construction of new churches and palaces. The population of both cities was predominately German and Jewish, but that was of little importance to the Luxemburgs and Angevins: rulers came from a dynasty, not from a nation; and subjects were subjects, period. Nobody particularly cared what language rulers or subjects spoke (though this attitude was changing), because it was assumed that rulers would learn several languages or have skilled translators so that they could speak with the nobles who performed military service and gave advice when asked. The middle class was small, and the lower classes paid taxes and performed unremunerated services, but since nobody asked their opinions, it did not matter much what language they spoke.(2) Western clergy knew Latin, which was an international language mastered more or less by everyone with a pretension to learning or a need to travel.
Louis the Great was able to extend his authority eastward and to the south, onto the steppes (modern Ukraine), into Moldavia and Wallachia (modern Rumania), and down the Adriatic coast (modern Croatia). This was possible partly because he could use Polish and Hungarian resources for every project, partly because he did not have to watch the Poles while fighting to expand his Hungarian kingdom. Louis' first failure as monarch was to have no son. His second was to have two surviving daughters. His third was to die (1382) before his daughters reached maturity. That meant that despite his plans to have his elder daughter, Maria, inherit both kingdoms, the Polish and Hungarian nobles were able to demand that he arrange to divide the inheritance between them; otherwise, they would call upon male Piasts and Angevins to claim the thrones. In Poland this feeling was especially strong in Little Poland, the area around the capital city, Cracow. In modern geo-political terms, this made little sense--Poland would be caught between Bohemia, Hungary, and Prussia; Hungary would be fighting alone against the Turks along the Lower Danube. Nor did it make much sense then either. But national feelings sometimes have little to do with common sense or long-term self-interest.(3)
Under the circumstances, the best that Louis the Great could do was to have Maria (born 1371) engaged to the second son of Charles IV, and to persuade the Polish nobles to promise to make her their future queen.(4) The younger daughter, Jadwiga (b. 1374), was engaged to Wilhelm, the young Habsburg prince of Steierland in Austria. Her inheritance would be Hungary. Surely, everyone could see the advantages of combining the Steierland, Hungarian, and Croatian resources. This would allow them to protect Christendom against the Turks in the Balkans, perhaps even to mount an offensive that would drive Islam completely out of Europe. However, it did not help that at the moment Wilhelm's father, Leopold, was involved in a losing war with his Swiss subjects, so that he had no resources available to help his son.(5)
Charles IV was luckier in every respect. First of all, he had three sons. Secondly, he was better able to tap into the patriotic instincts of his German subjects by the reforms he made in the Holy Roman Empire, by limiting the opportunities for popes to interfere in the electoral process, and by giving lip service to national institutions such as the German Order (the Teutonic Knights, whose religious nature did not prevent its membership from ignoring inconvenient papal commands to join in the Church's frequent contests with Holy Roman Emperors). He did not continue his youthful participation in the Order's crusades against Lithuanian pagans after he became emperor, but he encouraged others to do so. Perhaps he would have been more active if he had possessed the financial resources, but Karl was too cautious a financial manager to waste anything; this ability to discern priorities among possibilities may have been the secret to his political successes. When he died in 1378, his elder son Wenceslas (Wenzel, b. 1361) was elected first King of Bohemia, then Holy Roman Emperor. The second son, by another marriage, Sigismund of Brandenburg (b. 1368), was to become King of Poland; this was by no means a novel arrangement--at the beginning of the century two Bohemian monarchs had been kings of Poland. In 1381 Wenceslas sent Sigismund to Cracow to learn Polish and to become acquainted with the land and its people; he also gave him the Neumark to facilitate communication between Brandenburg and Poland.(6)
Few of these grand plans worked out by Louis the Great and Charles IV went as hoped. Right from the beginning, Sigismund became greedy; this characteristic, which might expect of a thirteen-year-old child became a habit that would bedevil the politics of East Central Europe for more than five decades. Even so, he might have gotten away with it if he had shown real skill at dissimulation. (Sigismund never really grew up. There was a child-like quality to him even when he was an aged and very jaded monarch.)When the Polish nobles asked the child-candidate for Maria's hand to promise that he would reside in Poland if his wife became their monarch, he refused. He saw an opportunity to add the Hungarian crown to his wife's inheritance, thereby maintaining the union of the two kingdoms.(7) He might also have given some indications that he was hoping to succeed his half-brother Wenceslas as King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor. Wenceslas had no sons and no prospects of having additional heirs. Sigismund had a tendency to speak before he thought. Sometimes he did not even think after he spoke, so that he could repair the damage.
On the positive side, he possessed remarkable energy. One might even think of him as somewhat manic, always on the move, always looking for new diversions. In the realms of politics and sex Sigismund never seemed to flag. He dreamed great dreams, put into words magnificent visions--a master of many languages, he rarely needed an interpreter--and unfailingly charmed his audience, whether assemblies of nobles, gatherings of churchmen, and private interviews with other monarchs.(8)
The Poles were already tired of being the afterthought in the Angevin plans. Already in 1376 they had forced the first of three regents to resign--Louis' mother, after her Hungarian guards were involved in a riot with the Polish garrison in Cracow. They were in no mood now to accept Maria and her Luxemburg fiancé, Sigismund, largely because they did not believe that the royal couple would make their principal residence in Poland. Arguing that Sigismund was a German and that Maria was a name which should be reserved for the Mother of God, they rejected her claim to be queen, renounced their oaths to Sigismund, and began looking for somebody more suitable as a monarch; unfortunately for their plans, the Silesian lines of Piasts refused even to attempt raising an army sufficiently large to fight Sigismund's forces--Ladislas of Oppeln, whose name most constantly surfaced, had the genealogy, the talent and the experience, but he was also Palatine of Hungary, thus a subject of Sigismund's, and many Poles already thought of him as a foreigner. Ladislas also wisely saw that the moment was not right for a weak candidate; he concentrated on enhancing his resources in Silesia and Masovia. Others, like him, chose to let the future work itself out.(9)
The youthful Sigismund and his advisors, therefore, had reason to believe that he could wear the opposition down. They knew that hostility to foreigners was nothing new in Poland: the last Bohemian king who had dared to wear the Polish crown had been assassinated!(10) When Sigismund's troops ravaged Masovia in retaliation for its duke, Ziemowit IV, having dared to raise a claim on the throne, the Poles realized that they would not be able to resurrect a Piast monarchy; Sigismund, for his part, was only thirteen years old, and everyone could see that he would not be able to capture the fortresses in Silesia and Little Poland necessary to establish himself as king or make Ladislas of Oppeln dominant there; the only beneficiaries of continued war would be the mercenary troops, who were enriching themselves from a countryside which had long been spared the ravages of war.(11) As it became apparent that the Angevin women might not even hold onto Hungary unless they established an active royal presence there, Sigismund was persuaded to compromise.(12) The best arrangement was to exchange crowns, to send to Poland the younger Angevin daughter, Jadwiga, who was being kept in Hungary by her mother, and have Maria become Queen of Hungary. In 1384, when the Polish nobles and clergy agreed that Jadwiga was the only ruler acceptable to every local faction, her mother, Elisabeth, allowed the ten-year-old girl to proceed to Cracow.(13)
Maria, accompanied by her Croatian mother, went to Hungary, where they met with an only slightly less hostile reception than had been accorded Jadwiga; they were shocked to learn that the Hungarian nobles planned to marry Maria to Duke Louis of Orleans--a plan clearly designed to weaken royal authority. Sigismund arrived only in the nick of time to marry the heiress himself, becoming thereby not king himself, but regent (a technicality he could work around later). The marriage was accomplished, if not necessarily consummated, in spite of the queen mother's opposition (her skills as a politician were less than astute, but she had no shortage of righteous self-confidence and ruthless determination), because of Maria's tender age and clear dislike of her prospective groom. Sigismund made no secret of the fact that he was going to continue to seek out the company of other women until their marriage and probably afterward. This was not something that an eleven-year-old girl was likely to understand, or for pious clergy and laymen to overlook.(14) As soon as Sigismund left the country to fetch more troops from Bohemia so that he could crush those nobles who refused to recognize him as king, Maria and her mother were pressed by the nobles to swear fealty to a newly-arrived Italian relative, Charles of Durazzo, whose navy would be useful in the perennial struggle with Venice to control the Adriatic coast.(15) Charles "the Little" (as his enemies called him) had already murdered one queen (in Naples) and was clearly not above doing away with a couple more, but Elisabeth was one stab swifter than he--in 1385 she arranged his murder. However, Elisabeth trusted her Croatian countrymen too much and was taken prisoner with Maria by vengeful adherents of the Angevin party. The courtiers who had supported her were executed immediately, and their heads placed on public display in Naples; Elisabeth and Maria were held as prisoners. Sigismund arrived with an army in the winter of 1386/1387 in hopes of rescuing them, but as his forces watched helplessly, the captors strangled Elisabeth and hung her body outside the window. Maria was a horrified witness, knowing that she would be next unless the siege was broken off. Sigismund, understanding that the garrison was composed of desperate men who could not be overawed by the forces at his disposal, broke off the attack and went back to the Holy Roman Empire to raise a larger army of mercenaries. This was not easy: Sigismund had to sell Brandenburg to his cousin, Jobst, to finance a second expedition to recover his bride. This time, in the spring of 1386, when Wenceslas and Sigismund brought a much larger army into Hungary, they succeeded in crowning Sigismund, liberating Maria, then restoring order in that distraught land. Sigismund executed some of his wife's kidnappers with the sword, others he sent into exile.(16)
The Poles meanwhile had also set out to find an alternate husband for their young queen. Jadwiga had already gone through a preliminary ceremony of marriage to Wilhelm von Habsburg, but that could be annulled easily; moreover, Wilhelm was unable to lead a sizeable army into Poland to claim Jadwiga as Sigismund had done for her sister, and that fact undid him. Despite Wilhelm's youth and obvious lack of military strength, the Polish nobles still feared that he would be too powerful a monarch (that he could involve them in German quarrels was also important, but only if he was strong enough to make the Diet agree to a foreign expedition); on the other hand, there was no one among their own number who qualified as a royal consort. As a result, the candidate who most appealed to the nobles was a middle-aged Lithuanian pagan named Jogaila who was currently fighting with his cousin Vytautas for control of the great empire that their grandfather and fathers had put together. Jogaila could provide troops and the leadership to repel the Golden Horde's attacks on Galicia and Sandomir and help keep the Hungarians out of Moldavia. The churchmen were excited about the prospect of converting the pagans of Lithuania--a condition they insisted upon absolutely in all negotiations.(17)
At first Jadwiga's feelings were hardly considered. She was clearly in love with Wilhelm, who slipped into Cracow quietly and arranged to meet her in St. Francis' church when she came down from Wawel Castle to worship. When her advisors learned of this, they barred the castle doors. A famous picture [Jadwiga i Dymik z Goraja] by the nineteenth-century nationalist painter, Jan Matejko, shows her, fully mature, axe in hand, ready to beat down the door, restrained only by the entreaties of her aged and well-meaning advisor. The chronicler, Dugosz, elaborated on the romantic crisis, how her advisors finally sent a trusted observer to look Jogaila over and reassure the queen that he was not aged and deformed, but in fact rather handsome and good-tempered.(18)
In retrospect, we can see that there was a remarkable generational change occurring in this period. All the great rulers of mid-century in East Central Europe (Louis the Great, Charles IV, Algirdas and Kstutis of Lithuania, and Grandmaster Winrich von Kniprode of the Teutonic Order) had died within a few years of one another, to be replaced by the highly interesting personalities who would dominate political life for the next half-century--Sigismund of Luxemburg, Jogaila (Jagiello), Vytautas, Korybutas, Svidrigailo, ygimantas, all men of genius, however flawed, and a series of less-gifted grandmasters. There would be a similar generational change in the 1430's, but none of their successors would become worthy matches in personalities or deeds.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania
With Poland and Hungary having fallen into domestic turmoil, the driving engine of politics in East Central Europe during the last two decades of the fourteenth century was the feud between the Lithuanian cousins Vytautas (Witold, Vitovt, b. about 1350) and Jogaila (b. about 1354)--Jagiello, as the Poles called the Lithuanian-born prince, their revered queen's consort. This feud, which burned sometimes very hot indeed, was sometimes cool enough to allow for a reconciliation in order to deal with the advances of the Teutonic Order into Samogitia; it revolved around the possession of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, then the largest state in Europe, a state that both men could claim on the basis both of heredity and the possession of a substantial following among the clans and boyars.
The Lithuanian state was largely Rus'ian (Rus' is the term now commonly used for the pre-modern "Russian" states in the territories of modern Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, to differentiate them from the differently organized state and culture of Muscovite Russia that arose in reaction to and in imitation of the Tatars).(19) The disintegration of Rus' as a result of dynastic quarrels and the Mongol invasions coincided with the appearance of a gifted pagan dynasty in Lithuania which could promise the Rus'ians protection from the Mongols and Poles, religious liberty and good government. The result was a tremendous expansion of the Lithuanian state into Rus', the Lithuanian dukes providing protection and their subjects paying taxes. Intermarriage between the Lithuanian dukes and the Rus'ian ducal families, and between Lithuanian nobles and Rus'ian nobles cemented the arrangement.(20) As a result, historians have often looked on the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a "reconstituted Rus' state."(21) Understandably, such an attitude nettles modern-day nationalist Lithuanian historians, who emphasize the genius of the Gediminid dynasty, the tolerance inherent in medieval paganism,(22) and the protection that those gifted rulers could provide against all enemies, internal as well as external. The Lithuanian dukes had behaved fairly to each of their ethnically diverse subject peoples, and, therefore, they had been able to organize them effectively for the common defense; but also they were sufficiently ruthless to keep the warring factions of cities and provinces under control, thereby avoiding the recurrent civil wars of the past that had hindered resistance to the Tatars. Lithuanian warriors understood that their business was to shed blood on command, and they were good at their job--big, strong, well-trained professionals. They were neither Islamic like Tatars nor Roman Catholic like Poles and Hungarians; most important, they were not as unpredictable, cruel, and lacking in a sense of honor as Rus'ians perceived the Tatars to be--Tatars, high and low, even those who had lost interest in Rus', were the national enemy. Lithuanians were not saints, but they shared Rus'ian values; like Rus'ian nobles and burghers, Lithuanian dukes and their professional warriors valued military prowess, ancient genealogies, the contributions of foreign merchants and considered their serfs the scum of the earth.(23)
It was no accident that the greatest expansion of the Grand Duchy coincided with the drive eastward by the Polish monarch Casimir the Great between 1340 and 1360. The Rus'ians wanted help against the Mongols, but they understood the less than subtle overtones of the Polish claim to be defending Christendom. They knew that Poles felt culturally and spiritually superior to them, and they knew that Poles expected them to respond by embracing wholeheartedly everything they offered; of course, they might have been more willing to comply if the Polish armies had been close enough to render assistance when the Mongols attacked or when Lithuanians pressed them.(24) However, the Polish homeland was far away and often the king was more interested in protecting his western and southern frontiers than his distant eastern ones. In any case, the Rus'ians chose to put themselves in the care of the Lithuanian Grand Prince, Algirdas, who was supposed to have beaten a Tatar army at the battle of Blue Waters (Sinie Vody), near the mouth of the Bug River, in 1363; and they were repaid by comparative peace, prosperity, and religious liberty.(25)
The expansion of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy was due in substantial part to an outstanding ruler, Gediminas (b. 1257, duke 1316-1341), and his sons, especially Algirdas (Olgierd, 1296-1377) and Kstutis (pronounced Kenstutis, 1297-1382), the former taking the title of Grand Prince and responsibility for most Rus'ian affairs, the latter defending the eastern and northern frontiers against the Poles (and, sometimes, Hungarians) in Galicia, Sandomir, and Masovia; and against the Teutonic Knights in Prussia and Livonia. After Algirdas' death, Kstutis insisted that all of the other dukes follow his instructions and thereby avoid working at cross purposes from one another, or even beginning a civil war. Already some of the dynasty's numerous progeny had figured out that there were not a sufficient number of important offices to satisfy all their ambitions, and none was noted particularly for patience and self-sacrifice; moreover, some of their Rus'ian possessions were beginning to seek independence--even seeking help from Moscow.(26) The Gediminid dynasty had always highly prized courage, initiative, and cunning; it never taught or practiced the so-called "Christian" virtues, even when converted to Orthodoxy. As Dugosz put it, "Neque enim inter barbaros tuta et sincera possunt durare foedera, inter quos verus ignoratur Deus: nulla quoque viget fides, nullum sacrosanctum insiurandum, nulla legitima religio." Translation: don't trust the pagans.(27) Now it was pay-back time for encouraging those traits, unless Kstutis could keep his numerous nephews and sons in line. He did not adopt the title Grand Prince (Grand Duke is a customary, though slightly misleading translation, because Grand Prince expresses the Rus'ian and Mongol nature of the office), but he might as well have. Kstutis' policy angered Algirdas' eldest son by his second marriage, Jogaila, and his full brothers, who were already feuding with their half-brothers from Algirdas' first marriage. Jogaila had a better claim on the title of Grand Prince than did the eldest half-brother, Andrew (Andrius), because--in that strange practice widely observed in the Middle Ages--sons inherited a claim to the office held by the father at the time of their birth. Thus, Andrew was merely the son of a duke, Jogaila was the son of the Grand Prince. But also, Algirdas had recognized the superior talents of his son by Juliana, his second wife; and Juliana had become a powerful figure in her own right after being widowed. Formerly excluded from influence over her sons' upbringing, because she was an Orthodox Christian and Algirdas had insisted on his sons being reared as pagans, she was now willing to use every means available to advance the interests of her eldest son against those of her predecessor's offspring. To make him more acceptable to potential Rus'ian subjects, she persuaded him to be baptized as an Orthodox Christian.(28)
The Origins of the Feud
Jogaila soon discovered that he would need more allies than he had to triumph over his powerful and respected uncle, Kstutis, and his well-connected half-brother, Andrew. Through his brother Skirgaila (Skirgieo, b. after 1354) he made a secret alliance with the hated Teutonic Knights, promising to become a Roman Christian at some future date--he even sent Skirgaila (probably not the younger brother, Svidrigailo, b. 1370, whom some chronicles name and whose name was appearing on documents as early as 1382) to speak to Louis the Great of Hungary, Wenceslas of Bohemia, the Holy Roman Emperor, and perhaps even Pope Urban VI.(29) This brilliant move persuaded the aged grandmaster, Winrich von Kniprode, to drop his support of Andrew and make a secret alliance with Jogaila.(30) A consummate actor and brilliant schemer, Jogaila made Kstutis' son Vytautas his closest friend. As a result, when Kstutis became suspicious of the crusaders' improved knowledge of his military plans and Jogaila's tendency to bring his troops onto the field just a little too slowly to trap the German armies, Jogaila had Vytautas to plead his case. Kstutis was by no means persuaded, but the aged ruler had his son's own wild nature to worry about--and Vytautas was now thirty, an age at which he should have been given lands and responsibilities of his own.(31) A false step could drive the young prince into rebellion--the pride of the Lithuanian ruling house was notorious! But Kstutis wanted his son at his side a little longer. There was so much he needed to teach him. Not just of military matters, but also of men. Of course, treason on Jogaila's scale could not be concealed forever. Nor could the policy disagreements be reconciled. Jogaila wanted to concentrate on the east, moving further into Rus', even at the price of surrendering lands to the crusaders; Kstutis disagreed totally. Jogaila became ever more independent, arranging for the marriage of his sister Alexandra to a Masovian duke without asking permission, conducting joint military operations with the Livonian Order, and driving his brothers Andrew and Korybutas from their lands.(32) In 1381 Kstutis ended the problem, he thought, by arresting Jogaila (and perhaps Jogaila's mother), assuming control of his lands, and adopting the title of Grand Prince. However, at Vytautas' urging and Juliana's insistence, he released Jogaila and allowed him to return to his lands in the east.
In 1382 Kstutis marched to Novgorod-Seversk to deal with Jogaila's rebellious younger brother Korybutas (Kaributas, b. after 1354). Jogaila hurried to Vilnius, called for his supporters to join him there and sent a message to the grandmaster to march into Lithuania with all speed, then besieged Kstutis' island castle at Trakai. When Kstutis and Vytautas arrived to relieve the siege, they found themselves trapped between Jogaila's highland forces and the crusader army. Jogaila invited Kstutis and Vytautas to a conference, seized them, and imprisoned them in the fortress at Krivias (Krewo). He allowed Skirgaila, perhaps at his mother's urging, to murder Kstutis and then assume responsibility for ruling the western lands; then he did away with Kstutis' powerful and famously beautiful Samogitian wife, Birut; he left Vytautas and his brother ygimantas to rot in prison; and he signed treaties with the new grandmaster, Conrad Zöllner von Rotenstein (1382-1390), promising to become a Christian within four years and ceding western Samogitia to the Teutonic Order as soon as the crusaders could conquer it.(33)
Vytautas escaped from prison through a ruse: the short, slight, beardless prince doffed his wife Anna's clothing after an overnight stay and was out of the castle before the exchange was noticed. By early November he made his way to a sister, Danuta Anne, wife of Duke Janusz of Masovia. However, he could not stay there--Jogaila was already on his trail. Soon Vytautas appeared before the new grandmaster in Marienburg, offering to become a Roman Christian and join him in war against the new Grand Prince of Lithuania. He was at least safe in Prussia, though he was in the hands of his father's enemies. Would he, like Kstutis, have to find some way to escape from the grandmaster's fortress? And if he did, where would he go?(34)
Grandmaster Conrad Zöllner was uncertain as to the best policy to follow. He had little experience in diplomacy, and he had never met either Vytautas or Jogaila personally. The policy he eventually decided upon was too delicately balanced to remain upright long: he baptized Vytautas (under the name of his sponsor, Wigand) and his wife and daughter (both generously released by Jogaila), then established them in western Samogitia, to rule the pagans who had surrendered; however, he carefully kept Vytautas under close supervision and assured Jogaila that he would prevent Vytautas from causing any trouble to the Lithuanian Grand Duchy. Neither Vytautas nor Jogaila were amused.
When Vytautas appeared in Samogitia, numerous warriors had hurried to his side. As much as they hated his Christian allies, they hated the murderers of Kstutis and Birut more. To have their prince back, they willingly cooperated in destroying the pagan leadership and desecrating the holy woods. They assisted in building primitive castles along the Nemunas River, and when Jogaila and Skirgaila (apparently appalled at the speed of Vytautas' progress) made war on Vytautas, they fought against them enthusiastically. Vytautas possessed all the virtues of a great pagan prince, and it did not matter to them that he was nominally a Christian. To paraphrase Dugosz, Vytautas was of all of Gediminas' descendants the greatest in the manly virtues and, for the most part, honest, civil, and humane.(35)
Jogaila judged the situation astutely. Recognizing how dangerous his position was becoming, he made contract with Vytautas, telling him that it was better to forgive and forget their quarrels, however justified, than to become subjects of the grandmaster. Jogaila was already well aware of the Polish interest in arranging his marriage to Jadwiga, and Pope Urban VI had indicated his own personal interest and support. Jogaila desperately needed peace in order to pursue the negotiations with Polish representatives at Krivias (Treaty of Krewo, 1385). The only way that Jogaila could be sure of Vytautas' cooperation in christianizing Lithuania was to take him with him to Cracow. Assassination would not do, and military defeat seemed unlikely. Therefore, Jogaila made secret contact with Vytautas and offered him his ancestral lands back.(36) In July of 1384, at Vytautas' command, the Samogitians revolted against the Teutonic Order, seizing most of the crusader castles in their land all at once; then Vytautas' and Jogaila's forces besieged those few which remained untaken.(37) Once the campaign had been concluded successfully, however, Jogaila reneged on his promises, leaving Skirgaila as ruler of the west, giving his disappointed cousin only a few small territories southeast of Masovia.(38) There was nothing Vytautas could do except pretend to be satisfied.
In February of 1386 Jogaila married the young Polish monarch, after undergoing a baptismal service which gave each Lithuanian prince a new name (Jogaila = Ladislas, Korybutas = Sigismund, Vytautas = Alexander, and so forth).(39) King Ladislas, as the new monarch was always called officially, then brought a handful of Christian priests to Vilnius to begin the process of converting the Lithuanians to Christianity.(40) More impressive were the thousands of Polish palatines and knights who accompanied them. The Archbishop of Gniezno, who had presided at the baptism, marriage, and coronation, named as Bishop of Vilnius a Polish Franciscan with experience at Gniezno as confessor to Queen Elisabeth and ordered a new cathedral erected on the site of the long-since demolished first cathedral (after clearing away the unroofed pagan cult building and sacrificial altar).(41) According to the inaccurately informed Nikonian Chronicle, the king tortured and executed two boyars who preferred to become Orthodox Christians. This seems unlikely, but the report suggests accurately what many Rus'ians thought about the "German" faith.(42)
Franciscans were the preferred religious order for dealing with pagans. They had long experience in Lithuania (somewhat dated by now, because the last missionaries in Vilnius had been lynched by pagan fanatics decades ago); moreover, they were well-known for tolerating non-Christians, sometimes even preferring them over Christians who refused to live by their own democratic, pacifist version of the Gospels' message. Their task was not to be an easy one. As late as 1389 the Samogitians tied the captured castellan of Memel on his steed, wearing full armor, piled brush around him, and burned him alive as a sacrifice to the gods.(43)
King Ladislas had little time to worry about this personally. His presence was required at the opposite end of the kingdom, in Moldavia and Wallachia. Those border regions had belonged to Hungary, but Polish influence had grown there during the reign of Louis the Great. Kstutis' impressive incursions into Galicia had demonstrated that the Hungarians could not defend their steppe outposts without Polish help; and the Turks appeared to be even more dangerous enemies than the Tatars and Lithuanians. After Louis's death the Hungarian and Polish kingdoms separated, each being torn by fierce struggles over the crown. Moldavians saw in this an opportunity for independence and for raising tariffs on goods transported over the new trade route between the Black Sea and Poland. King Ladislas' task was to stabilize the situation in Galicia (rather easily done, given the turmoil in Hungary and his own control of Lithuanian policy) and then extend Polish control over Moldavia and Wallachia. These tasks he accomplished before the end of 1387, though papal mediation was necessary to prevent war between Poland and Hungary. Fortunately for King Ladislas, whose hold on Polish loyalties was still very weak, Sigismund was too busy with the Turks to do anything more than think about revenge on the Poles; Sigismund was keeping track, however.(44) As for King Ladislas, his responsibilities were taking him too far south for him to do anything about the increasingly violent quarrels between Skirgaila and Vytautas other than to warn them that, unless they could find some way to get along, he would have to remove one of them.(45)
By Spring of 1389 the escalating dispute between the Lithuanian dukes had gone beyond endurance; as Skirgaila said to Vytautas at one encounter, "beware of me as I of you." Soon thereafter Vytautas contacted Grandmaster Conrad von Zöllner through two captive knights, Marquard (Markward) von Salzbach and the Count of Rheineck, offering hostages (ygimantas and his son, Michael; his sister, Ringail; his wife and daughter; and about a hundred others), a promise to convert all the Lithuanians to Roman Christianity, and an alliance against Poland. Marquard spoke to the Grandmaster, who was skeptical about Vytautas' sincerity; subsequently, a second delegation led by Ivan of Galschan, Anna's brother, told the Grandmaster that Skirgaila had learned of the earlier talks, that the governor of Vilnius was now on the alert, and that Svidrigailo had declared war on Vytautas. As almost his last action, Conrad Zöllner agreed to a new alliance with Vytautas and sent an army to invest Vilnius on his behalf. The attack was not successful, but in the three years to follow crusader armies marched with Vytautas throughout western Lithuania, achieving victory after victory. This time the Grandmaster, now Conrad von Wallenrode, allowed Vytautas no contact with Lithuanians except in the presence of Lithuanian-speaking knights. Marquard von Salzbach was foremost among these, thanks to his friendship with Vytautas, but von Wallenrode needed his talent, advice, and chivalric example too much to assign him full-time duty as Vytautas' companion.(46)
King Ladislas was becoming desperate. His brothers had proven themselves either incompetent or untrustworthy; their subjects, even the Samogitians, were willing to forgive Vytautas even his new alliance with the enemy. The king could rely only on Poles to hold Lithuania for him--as governor of Vilnius from 1390 to 1392 he appointed Jan Olenicki, a military officer from Cracow whose one-year-old son Zbigniew was to become one of the greatest figures in Polish history through his long association with the new king. As a temporary policy, this was working, but the king could see that native Lithuanians were unhappy. Something had to be done.(47)
To make matters worse, Sigismund was strengthening the position of the Teutonic Order in Masovia. In the spring of 1391 Sigismund's Palatine, Ladislas of Oppeln, mortgaged the castle Slatoria near Thorn to the Order. This was the key fortress protecting Duke Ladislas' lands in Dobrin and Kujavia that King Louis had given him in pawn several years early for loans and services. King Ladislas reacted angrily, attacking Duke Ladislas' lands, but the Teutonic Knights came down in overwhelming numbers to drive the Polish forces away. The question was then raised as to whether the Teutonic Order might purchase Ladislas' lands outright; other negotiations began in May of 1392 for the Teutonic Order to purchase the Neumark from King Sigismund (who had given it to his younger brother, Johann von Görlitz, four years earlier). Grandmaster Conrad von Wallenrode was unwilling to purchase real estate with such cloudy titles--that was not consistent "with God, Honor, or Justice"--but he wanted to do what he could for the King and Queen of Hungary and for the Duke of Oppeln. In late July he paid 50,000 Gulden to Duke Ladislas, who gave him Dobrin to hold as pawn against repayment.(48)
It would not be amiss to believe that Sigismund was working out a plot to dismember the Polish kingdom, taking the most important, southern parts for himself, while rewarding his fellow conspirators handsomely (if perhaps only temporarily) with the less valuable northern territories.
As it turned out, King Ladislas was too clever for his enemies.In early August 1392 he sent as his emissary to Prussia Bishop Henryk of Pock, whose sister-in-law was the King's sister Alexandra. Henryk used the opportunity provided by confession to inform Vytautas of his master's propositions. Vytautas, under the pretext of allowing his wife to make a visit home, sent her to negotiate with the King; he also managed to secure the release of many hostages who had been kept in honorable captivity in scattered fortresses; then he gave his sister in marriage to Bishop Henryk(49) and dismissed the English crusaders who had just arrived to join another invasion of Lithuania. In June Vytautas gave the orders to revolt and supervised the seizure and destruction of several undermanned castles before he hurried to join the King in early August.(50) This time his cousin honored the promise to give Vytautas authority over all of Lithuania. The king was fully occupied in Poland, fighting the endless battles in court for influence, occasionally seeing his very devout and somewhat sickly wife, occasionally leading military forces in the southeastern part of the kingdom. Vytautas, meanwhile, though giving primary personal attention to defending Lithuania against the devastating incursions of the Teutonic Knights, was establishing his supremacy throughout the Grand Duchy's Rus'ian empire. By the end of 1393, there was little opposition left; and when Vytautas' forces won a major battle at Kremenets in 1394, crushing the Volhynian, Galician and Moldavian dukes, Jagiello completely abandoned his brothers to their fate: Korybutas went into exile in Cracow; the Moldavian ruler fled to Cracow, where he was imprisoned; Skirgaila died in Kiev in 1396, probably poisoned. Svidrigailo fought for the Teutonic Order briefly before achieving a reconciliation. The former bishop, Henryk, died, unmourned, of poison.(51) Peace talks with the Teutonic Order began. These culminated in September of 1398 in the Treaty of Sallinwerder, which surrendered Samogitia to the Germans; soon thereafter Vytautas led his army to Kaunas, where the last pagans of Samogitia surrendered to the Teutonic Order.(52)
From this time on it is proper to refer to the Polish king by his Polish name, Jagiello, rather than either Ladislas or Jogaila because he becomes ever more identified with the fate of the Polish kingdom and less and less with that of Lithuania. Vytautas is henceforth the ruler of Lithuania.
The Polish Kingdom
Technically, Jadwiga was the monarch [rex], and in practice she announced all important decisions, relying more upon her separate court and her experienced advisors for counsel in domestic affairs than upon her husband, who had little background in local politics. In time, as she matured, she took an ever greater personal role in the administration of the country and even its foreign policy. At the beginning, of course, she had to rely heavily upon her experienced consort for advice about dealing with the Tatars, Turks and Hungarians. By 1397 she was conducting negotiations with Grandmaster Conrad von Jungingen personally. That only made sense. Her consort's support of Vytautas' military activities threatened to involve her kingdom in an unwanted war; moreover, she was more interested in religion than in spending time with her dour husband.(53)
Jagiello established himself in Cracow, a site better suited to protecting Polish interests in Silesia (part of which was then in the Bohemian kingdom) and dealing with crises on the Hungarian and Galician borders. He was too distant from Prussia and Lithuania to monitor activities there effectively; moreover, the intervening provinces were ruled by Masovian relatives of his wife who thought themselves better qualified to be king than he was. The fact that the Masovian dukes had Lithuanian ancestry themselves was of little importance when it came to an ambition to wear the crown; and it can be safely supposed that even Jagiello's sister Alexandra, who married Ziemowit IV in 1387, would be more ambitious for her children (she ultimately had thirteen) than for her brother.(54) Jagiello's greatest fear was that he would be suspected of having remained a secret pagan--a charge that the Teutonic Order and its friends never let die, in spite of the fact that he had been an Orthodox Christian for years before becoming a Roman Catholic; consequently, he never missed a religious observance, whether it be a mass or a fast. Jagiello was not a man for feasts: he ate little, he drank no alcohol at all. A thin, powerfully-built figure of average height, he kept his own counsel at all times; by avoiding drink, he avoided the rash slip of the tongue, the wounding remark, the inappropriate curse. He remained superstitious. But now he abandoned the pagan superstitions of his youth for the hardly more sophisticated ones of Poland and Roman Christianity.
Jagiello's new homeland--to the extent that he ceased to consider Lithuania that--was a feudal kingdom, but one that differed in some ways from our familiar French and English models. Poland was a frontier country, like Lithuania, and its nobles were powerful, warlike and independent-minded, rather like the English Marcher Lords who dwelt on the turbulent borders of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Its towns and villages were growing rapidly in number and size thanks to an influx of German and Jewish immigrants. The new urban centers made it possible for the nobles to dispose of some of the grain that the Polish plain produced so abundantly; the merchants could ship the grain down the slowly moving rivers, thereby earning the money that paid the taxes the royal government so desperately needed.
The Church was a powerful institution, thanks to the early donation of huge empty stretches of land that prelates had recently filled with settlers. Rich, self-confident, proud of its art and architecture, the Church was led by the Archbishop of Gniezno, bishops in Cracow, Pozna, Breslau (Wrocaw), Pock, Woclawek, and Lebus, and an ever-growing number of abbots and abbesses. The best way to understand the religious life of that era, as best we can short of being present at the packed masses in Poland today or at Polish shrines in the USA, is through the art that has survived. This was the gothic era, and Poland shared in its glories fully.(55)
Poland supported the Roman pope, Urban VI (1378-1389) against his Avignon rival, Clement VII (1378-1394). Polish Franciscans, who were very prominent in religious life, were outspoken critics of the divided church; they demanded fundamental reforms (essentially an end to the papal monarchy) that could be achieved, they believed, only through secular leadership. In this their criticisms were parallel to those being heard in Bohemia, but the Poles were not willing to go as far as the Czechs in their proposals for ecclesiastical and social reform.(56)
Rural life in Poland was dominated by an abundance of petty nobles, knights who were once necessary to defend the sparsely populated plain against a host of mounted enemies. As the population grew, the numbers of petty knights kept pace. They divided their lands among their numerous sons, provided mutual protection of their rights and privileges through a clan system (noble blood) that theoretically integrated them into the families of the great landowners, the magnates, and insisted on maintaining maximum freedom from feudal obligations. This swarm of warriors was called the szlachta, and comprised perhaps 10% of the total population. As might be expected, once the lands of the dukes, the magnates and the church were taken into account, what remained for the knights were plots of land sometimes too small to sustain a warhorse; what remained for free peasants was little indeed. The szlachta defended their rights with a ferocity that has been compared to racism.
Noble land was unconditionally free. There was, in fact, no feudal hierarchy in our usual sense. Loyalty was to the clan, not each knight to his immediately superior lord, who in Western Europe was in turn a vassal to another lord, and so forth up to the king. In Poland the magnates had great estates, from which they could raise vast numbers of knights and vast revenues from peasant labor. But their authority rested in their familial and clan ties, not in appointed office. The magnates and the important churchmen sat in the royal council (or Senate), which also served as the first chamber of the Polish Diet (Sjem).
The szlachta formed the second chamber of the Diet, the Chamber of Deputies. Their power came from the tradition by which both chambers had to agree before the king could make war, raise new taxes or change customary practices. The knights considered themselves free of any theoretical obligation to office-holders, even to the king. Their loyalty and support had to be requested, courted, even bought.(57)
It was not that there was no immediate threat to the Polish state. As we have seen, in 1392, Sigismund of Hungary, upset by Jagiello's penetration into Moldavia and Wallachia, persuaded Wenceslas of Bohemia and the Duke of Meissen to propose to Grandmaster Conrad von Wallenrode a scheme for dividing Poland between them. The Grandmaster declined, but Sigismund persisted in proposing various plots--hoping on one hand to organize a united resistance to the Turks, while at the same time keeping Poland and Venice out of lands he wanted for himself. Sigismund faced a serious crisis in 1395, when Queen Maria died in a hunting accident. Heavily pregnant (God knows how, because she hated Sigismund, who refused to allow her to participate in the government of her kingdom, whose resources were being wasted on light-hearted women and light-headed politcs), she miscarried when her horse fell. Fortunately for Sigismund, everyone agreed that the danger of invasion from Turkey was too serious to permit the luxury of a civil war at the moment. Sigismund became king in his own right.(58)
Jagiello, meanwhile, was spinning off plots of his own: Jadwiga made a claim on the Hungarian crown in 1395 after her sister's death, and Jagiello made an alliance of mutual aid with King Wenceslas of Bohemia, an alliance that could only have been directed at Sigismund. Jagiello also took great advantage of Sigismund's troubles after his crusading debacle at Nicopolis in 1396 (chapter 2).(59)
The mutual destablilization was getting out of hand. In July of 1397 Jagiello and Jadwiga visted Sigismund at Käsmark. All smiles and friendship, they signed a peace treaty. Amid the vague promises of support were some important specific points: Jadwiga withdrew her claims on the Hungarian crown, Ladislas of Oppeln would not be permitted to sell Dobrin and Kujavia to the Teutonic Order. The contrast of the two kings could not have been stronger. Jagiello's policies were difficult to predict--he was a taciturn, even dour man, who neither bragged or mused in public--but there was a consistency to the pattern of his actions that indicated he had clear and achievable goals in mind, even if they could not be realized immediately. Sigismund, in contrast, had neither permanent friends nor long-term programs, only ambitions which might change from week to week. Sigismund now offered to resolve the "tiny differences" that remained between Jagiello and the Teutonic Order. Both parties rejected the lightly-made offer.(60)
Jagiello and Jadwiga had little in common, but what they shared was important. Each was committed to the Christianization of Lithuania, each preferred a life of simplicity and informality to the orderly courtliness that the Polish nobles and prelates wanted to impose on life at Wawel Castle--perhaps partly to prevent Lithuanians from exercising too much influence. Jadwiga had been reared at one of the most magnificent courts in Europe, that of Louis the Great, though by temperament she did not enjoy entertaining; Jagiello was comfortable in a comparatively chaotic environment. Their compromise was to provide ample entertainment for the courtiers and for visitors, without the need of becoming personally involved until the time came for the obligatory personal appearances. Jadwiga kept a separate court, with a separate budget, that included ladies-in-waiting, western musicians, artists, poets, and friends; as much as possible she lived far away from the court in Cracow. Jagiello surrounded himself with Lithuanian friends and relatives, Rus'ian musicians, Rus'ian artists, huntsmen, hawks, dogs, and horses; he did not like to watch the popular jousts--that took time away from hunting! Town life was not for him, either.
Jadwiga ate little, which gave additional importance to the office of royal chef, who was expected to keep her healthy. Neither was Jagiello a gourmand. Except for the occasional important visitor, such as Sigismund or Jagiello's sister,(61) royal banquets were no longer affairs to boast of, especially for westerners unused to the rude manners of Jagiello's men, or to his fastidious standards of personal cleanliness (Lithuanians loved sauna baths); usually the king and queen dined separately and modestly. The queen was a saint, at least in behavior and in the eyes of her subjects. She was constantly accompanied by a bevy of priests and scholars; and, being well-educated, she could converse with them knowledgeably. As heiress of the Angevin throne, she discussed national affairs with her advisors, who then put her wishes into action. Jagiello was often on the frontier, busy with warfare and such political affairs as were likely to be crucial to his military success. His entourage included numerous clerics, some of whom were surely there to watch him for signs of deviation from the faith. Indeed, experiencing the multi-confessional nature of the king's courtiers for the first time must have been a puzzling and unnerving event for many clerics. For Jagiello, of course, it was important to keep his ties to Lithuania; he could never know how long his job as royal consort would last--should the frail queen die without children, the Poles were likely to turn to one of her Piast or Angevin relatives rather than entrust him with power. He was clever enough to pick brilliant men to be his secretary, because being illiterate, he was dependent upon them to read to him his most secret correspondence.(62)
A well-informed but biased chronicler of Teutonic Knights summarized the life of the royal pair thus:
A very beautiful woman in form and breeding was Hedwig (Jadwiga), and for her sake many visitors came to the royal court. But she took no joy in government or entertainment. She wore common clothing and went about with her face covered. She was not pleased by Jagiello's attempts to be good to her and it was only under compulsion that she rendered wifely obedience to him. For many years she made her bed in a coffin and sat on the floor. There were many covert conflicts [wars] between her and Jagiello, and many times when he summoned her to his bed or he went to hers, she indicated her unwillingness. For this she was often reproved by her confessor, until at last she became angry and remained silent at confession. She often plotted with others, and they with her, so that she and her true husband, Duke Wilhelm, might come together again.(63)
The truth of the matter is not easy to arrive at. Traditional Polish patriotism focuses so intensely on Jadwiga's personification of the nation's Christian mission and the Piast dynasty's virtues that often even the best of historians end up writing hagiography and propaganda. It is no surprise that novelists love Jadwiga, and that they transform her relationship with Jagiello into true love. If that was so, the royal couple did an excellent job of hiding it from their contemporaries. Which is not to say that the version given by the Teutonic Knights is correct. Medieval Christianity emphasized extreme modesty, fasting, chastity, the sad and suffering countenance. It may be, as most historians assume, that Jadwiga was moved more by piety than by a dislike of her husband or a longing for her first love. Her clerical advisors had a fine path to lead her along, keeping her sufficiently concerned for the salvation of her soul (and the millions in Lithuania) to follow the policies they recommended, without having her turn into a recluse who refused to conduct any worldly business at all.(64)
For all the court's seeming disorganization, it was the center of political life in Poland. It was the training ground for future administrators, and it was the place where Jagiello began to win grudging acceptance from the powerful nobles and prelates who worked with him. He was a hard taskmaster, and for all his reputation as a schemer and double-dealer, he did nothing untoward in Wawel Castle. Court life went on without violence, crime, or scandal.(65)
Vytautas was Jagiello's mirror image in many ways--sharing the normal interests in the hunt and politics, but in all other ways being his opposite. True, he had learned guile and subterfuge, but it had not come naturally to him. Vytautas was the warrior-king, the ideal ruler of a military elite. Of course, he was not a king, nor were his warriors knights. But the Lithuanian soldiery who earned their living as garrison troops in Rus'ian cities or enjoyed the revenues from serf-farmed estates saw Vytautas as the man to win them eternal fame in battle, give the boyars new offices and estates, and fill those estates with prisoner-of-war serfs; moreover, through superior generalship, he would expose them to minimum risks. In return, every so often they had to go through the motions of having accepted Christianity. How sincere that had to be, no one dared inquire: Lithuanians loved outwitting their enemies as much as they valued their own reputations for honesty, loyalty and courage; they did not allow anyone to question their honor.(66)
Vytautas was comfortable in his extraordinary multi-cultural environment. Like all his relatives, he was multi-lingual--Lithuanian, of course; the Rus'ian language in its local variants was essential for anyone wanting to rule in eastern Europe; some Low German for speaking with merchants and burghers who immigrated from Riga, High German for dealing with the Grandmaster and his knights; presumably some Polish. He dealt with Lithuanian pagans, Tatar pagans and Moslems, Roman Catholics from several nations, Orthodox Christians, and Jews. He lived among warriors, haggled with merchants, and argued with churchmen and priests. He employed as governors Poles, Germans, and Rus'ians, and he gave Tatars prominent roles in his armies--in short, without much regard for national origin he selected men who seemed most likely to carry out his wishes effectively and swiftly. Of course, he preferred to use relatives, believing in the often doubtful proposition that they could be trusted more than could vassals or strangers. He had tremendous vitality and energy, was often swollen with pride, and was equally filled with ambition for himself and his homeland.(67)
Vytautas' one vulnerable point was his lack of sons who could be entrusted with the governance of important cities and fortresses. Brothers and cousins were too independent-minded and ambitious for themselves to be trusted completely. His one ally was Basil I (Vasily) of Moscow, who came to Lithuania in 1386 via Moldavia and Germany after escaping from his Tatar "hosts." In 1380 Basil's father, Dmitri had led the Rus'ian princes to victory over the Tatars at the battle of Kulikovo Pole on the Don, winning thereby the title Dmitri Donskoy. Andrew of Polotsk and Korybutas of Briansk had fought bravely for Dmitri (according to a tradition which some historians reject), while Jogaila, their rival for control of eastern Lithuania, had been part of the Tatar coalition. Jogaila arrived, suspiciously, just too late to participate in the fighting, but was close enough to have been able to say to the khan, had he prevailed, that the Lithuanian force had hurried as swiftly as it could and, by the way, thank you for eliminating my rivals; and he could make a plausible case to his Rus'ian subjects that he had been only leading the khan along, so that Dmitri's coalition could bring him to battle. (Alternatively and more persuasively, Dmitri had skillfully thrust his army between the two enemies and defeated the Tatar forces before the Lithuanians could arrive.) The khan who had lost that great battle was soon supplanted by another, Tokhtamysh, who then led a fearful punitive expedition against Moscow. The Tatars, enraged by drunken citizens mooning them from the walls, cleared ramparts by accurate, concentrated archery fire, then stormed the fortifications. His troops driven back by a deluge of boiling water, Tokhtamysh offered to discuss peace, then murdered the Lithuanian commander of the garrison and resumed the attack. Once inside the walls, Tokhtamysh allowed his men to murder, pillage and rape, then set fire to the city. He granted peace to the Grand Duke (who had wisely taken refuge further north) only on the condition that the Rus'ian dukes pay a heavy tribute and give hostages who would guarantee his vassals' good behavior. Dmitri sent his son Basil (Vasili).(68)
Basil came close to being the son that Vytautas never had. He fell in love with Vytautas' sixteen-year-old daughter, Sophia, and asked to be allowed to marry her when circumstances allowed. In very early 1387 Vytautas sent Basil to Moscow with an honor guard of prominent Lithuanian boyars. For most of the next two decades Basil ignored as best he could Vytautas' encroachment on lands that belonged to Kievan Rus', lands that he could easily imagine being subject to himself.(69)
The apple of discord over the decades was Smolensk. In 1387 the duke, Ivan Vasilievich, invaded Lithuania with the intent of capturing a border fortress; his troops demonstrated that they had learned much (but nothing good) from the Tatars. The fortress, under the command of seventeen-year-old Svidrigailo, held out until Vytautas and Korybutas came "with a multitude, with numberless Lithuanian forces, marching swiftly across the fields toward the fortress." In the battle that followed, the Rus'ians fled in panic, abandoning their princes and the steadiest troops; the Lithuanians slew many prominent boyars, several commanders of noble blood, and thousands of troops, then followed the fleeing enemy to Smolensk, exacted a high ransom from its terrified citizens, and appointed a Rus'ian prince who could be depended upon to take orders from Vytautas. A devastating plague next struck the city, so depleting its population that the city ceased to be a major force in Rus'ian politics for some time.(70)
Basil's travels through the Hungarian realm of Sigismund, perhaps to Bohemia, perhaps through the lands of the Teutonic Order, suggest the existence of another of those many plots and counter-plots by which Sigismund and Grandmaster Conrad Zöllner had sought to play on Vytautas' dissatisfaction with Jagiello's imperious ways and his hatred of Skirgaila. However, the many momentous events of 1386 filled the western chroniclers' pages without leaving room for the movements of an obscure (to their mind) Rus'ian prince. Rus'ian sources are not much more informative. What is clear that Vytautas' growing influence in Rus' had been one of Skirgaila's main complaints. When Vytautas fled to Prussia in 1389 with all his closest relatives, to become the crusaders' ally, he was able to send Sophia to Moscow on a Hanseatic vessel from Danzig to Novgorod, whence she went overland to Moscow. Sophia and Basil were married the following year.(71)
As we have seen, upon becoming ruler in 1392 Vytautas reversed some of Jagiello's policies and most of Skirgaila's. After defeating Korybutas in battle, he sent him to Poland; Korybutas was later appointed governor of Kremenets and worked effectively with Vytautas until his death in 1404. In 1394 Vytautas released Jagiello's half-brother Andrew from his seven year's imprisonment to live with his son-in-law in Pskov. Andrew thereafter was a loyal supporter, dying in battle in 1399, fighting for his lord in the battle on the Vorskla River. Vytautas allowed Juliana to enter an Orthodox nunnery in Kiev, where she died that same year.(72) He celebrated his new authority symbolically, though cautiously enough that Jagiello could not claim that he was striving for total independence: Vytautas kept Jagiello's 1384 denars in circulation, but began to mark them with a V on the reverse; in addition, he began to issue a new silver coin with the Vytis (knight) on the face and the Lithuanian double cross on the reverse. He wanted everyone who handled those coins to realize that Lithuania remained a separate and sovereign realm.(73) Even so, he cautiously avoided using the title, Grand Prince; he exercised those powers, but the title was reserved for Jagiello, should he need to return to Lithuania.
Vytautas' reconciliation with the Teutonic Knights was a further demonstration of his independence of Polish supervision. He needed peace with the Germans in order to pursue his plans in the East, but expeditions south and east of Kiev could be possible only if he had aid that only Jagiello could provide--peace and Polish knights. Perhaps nothing demonstrated his diplomatic skill better than his success at making allies out of crusaders he had betrayed twice and a cousin whose ambition to rule in his place was restrained only by the need to be present in Poland.(74)
Vytautas came to power at a propitious moment. The Golden Horde was disintegrating from internal power struggles and outside attack. Plague had reduced the Tatar numbers, as three times the Black Death swept through Russia and on into the steppe. In addition, the overland trade that had provided luxuries and substantial incomes was disrupted when the Chinese expelled the Mongol dynasty from Peking and the Genoese established themselves on the Black Sea coast. Rus'ian princes, led by Moscow, refused to pay tribute or serve in the Tatar armies. Civil war divided the loyalties of the khans, then the victor, Tokhtamysh, was attacked by Tamberlane (Timur) in 1391 and stripped of the eastern half of his possessions. In 1395 Tamberlane's armies ravaged through the valleys of the Volga and Don Rivers, leaving the Golden Horde in shambles.(75)
Given this situation, Vytautas' star certainly seemed to be in the ascendance. In September 1395 he had taken Smolensk: pretending to be en route to the east, he arrested the prince and his leading boyars when they came out of the gate to greet him; then he entered the city in style, with a Latin cross borne before him. He dispersed the prisoners throughout his realm, later executing some whose loyalty he mistrusted. When Basil of Moscow visited him in Smolensk, he brought along the Metropolitan of Moscow, who apparently approved their plans to make war jointly on the Tatars. Basil went to Kiev, where for the next year and a half, he directed the military effort on that front.(76)
Subsequently, in late 1397 (after Skirgaila's death) and early 1398, Vytautas took his army as far east as the Don River,(77) defeating the Tatar forces there and being proclaimed "king of Lithuania" by his boyars. The new title could not be assumed without Jagiello's approval, of course, but it was an indication of his popularity among his subjects. When Tatar khans, including Tokhtamysh, came to Vytautas in Kiev and asked for his protection, it appeared that Vytautas would become master of all those lands which make up the modern Ukraine. At the same time he sent envoys to Novgorod, warning the people there to accept Basil as their prince; as a compromise, the Novgorodians accepted Basil's younger brother, Andrew, perhaps because he was only seventeen and, therefore, likely to accept local advice. When Sophia visited Vytautas for two weeks in Smolensk, bringing her children to see their grandfather, he was able to shower her with impressive gifts, among which was a piece of the True Cross.(78)
It was at this moment, just as he was reaching new heights of self-confidence and enthusiasm for his eastern ventures, that Vytautas was informed by Jagiello that all of Lithuania would be expected to pay an annual tax to Poland and that the queen had doubts about the wisdom of challenging the Tatars on the steppe, doubts which were so serious that she would strictly limit the number of Polish knights who could participate in the next campaign.(79) Vytautas had no doubts what his Orthodox subjects would think of that! They had just escaped paying the heavy tribute to the Tatars. They were not about to begin paying a tax to Roman Catholic Poles, who might go so far as to share it with the hated popes. And what was the use of an alliance with Poland if help would not be available when it was most needed? The Poles, of course, saw the matter differently: Lithuania was a Polish province, to be dealt with as they pleased. Vytautas saw that a new conflict with his cousin was building up, looming far away over the flat horizon, but with no geographical obstacle to prevent its winds from sweeping over him soon. Therefore, he took steps to assure his own safety and his control over the Grand Duchy.(80)
Vytautas settled some Tatars in Trakai, near his favorite castle, in order to provide himself with a dependable bodyguard.(81) The extended Lithuanian ducal family was as ruthless as mafia chiefs, and as practical: why fight an expensive and time-consuming war to rid yourself of enemies if assassination will do the trick? (Everyone knew that Svidrigailo had been behind an attempt on his life in 1394.)(82) An additional safeguard lay in the clan loyalties of Vytautas' Samogitians which practically guaranteed efforts at revenging outrages which went beyond the pale. In short, in spite of every precaution Vytautas did not feel secure. He had to contend with Tatars on the steppe, rebellious relatives in Rus', Jagiello's ambition to rule Lithuania (an ambition which was becoming all the stronger the more he was frustrated with the limited powers granted to him in Poland), and, of course, Grandmaster Conrad von Jungingen, who now held the Samogitian lands that Vytautas considered the symbolic heart of his patrimony. At the moment, his alliance with the Grandmaster was more important than Samogitia: the crusading order had the artillery and the engineering know-how to build fortresses. By using the proper mix of Rus'ian troops, Lithuanian cavalry, Tatar and Moldavian horsemen, Polish knights, and German artillery, Vytautas just might be able to defeat the hitherto invincible Tamberlane and the Tatars under his command on their home ground--the steppe that ran from their base in the Volga Valley to Galicia.
As we have seen, what drew the embittered cousins, Vytautas and Jagiello, together again and again was the existence of powerful, resourceful and aggressive neighbors--the Teutonic Knights on the Baltic and the Tatars on the steppe. In addition, each had special enemies which required attention from time to time: for Vytautas, the Livonian Order to the north and Novgorod to the east; for Jagiello, the Hungarians and Germans. It was easier to deal with these enemies if at least one potential front was at peace and other enemies were distracted by political and military complications. Peace with the Teutonic Order would achieve both results at once, at a reasonable cost. It did not have to be a permanent peace: the Grandmaster was susceptible to political pressures that ordinary rulers could easily ignore; as members of the Church, the knights were held to higher standards, among which was to forgive one's enemies.
Even so the Grandmaster of the Teutonic Order was in a position to drive a hard bargain. He possessed a powerful military force at this time, one that could make its way to Vilnius should he choose. The khans, in contrast, were expecting to have to defend themselves against Tamberlane; they could not send their warriors west on raids which were both risky and unlikely to be profitable. This meant that Prussia represented the greater threat to both Lithuania and Poland. The Grandmaster's state would not have been considered large by most medieval princes, was relatively poor in natural resources, and did not have a sizeable population. But over the decades Conrad von Jungingen's predecessors had organized the people and the resources effectively; by grants of land, promises of low rents and few taxes, they had attracted hard-working peasants, knights, and burghers who made the sandy soil, the fir forests, and the rivers flowing from the interior produce grain, wood and commerce. Compared to neighboring states, Prussia was rich indeed.(83)
Grandmaster Conrad von Jungingen's state was managed by experienced knights--castellans who supervised the convents in the castles, advocates who supervised the rural districts, financial officers--and was defended by a combination of well-trained knights of the order, secular vassals of German, Prussian and Polish origin, burgher and peasant militias, and some mercenaries. The armies were well-trained and well-equipped, the castles stocked with food, clothing, and weapons.(84)
The decentralized nature of the Order's administration and the inevitable loss of records over the centuries makes it difficult to estimate the Order's resources as well as we would like, but specialized studies are filling the gaps very quickly. The Grandmaster obtained his incomes from taxes, tolls, the sale of amber (a monopoly he guarded carefully, because it often brought in more revenues than anything else), trade, court costs, profits from the mint, and interest from loans; in addition, he had some income from estates in the Holy Roman Empire.(85) The castellans, advocates and financial officers concentrated on raising animals and grain on their own estates, collecting taxes from peasants and burghers, tolls from merchants and travelers, and assuring that mills, taverns, and other regulated public services paid the proper fees and taxes. Contemporaries considered the Order's revenues immense.(86)
The Grandmaster's castles had once hosted annual, even semi-annual influxes of crusaders from Germany, France, Bohemia, Austria, England, Scotland, and Italy. They still remained as impressive monuments to the wealth of a military-religious order that had found its niche in the popular imagination, the expanding commercial world, and in furthering the interests of both the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor.
The symbol of this powerful state was the huge castle at Marienburg, a structure that was actually three castles in one. More than a military structure--it hardly served as one, being so obviously impregnable that it was never attacked--Marienburg was the representation of chivalric knighthood at the highest level yet attained. Even the fabulously rich Burgundians were impressed when they visited Marienburg! The castle contained central heating, spacious banqueting halls, numerous saunas, and commodious lodgings for special guests; Grandmaster Conrad's free-standing residence alone was the size of many fine castles, and it lacked nothing that counted as contemporary luxury.(87) Even the finest wines were on the grandmasters' table, though only inferior grapes grew as far north as Prussia.(88)
The thousands of documents which survive testify to the Order's preoccupation with careful record-keeping. Among these are short notes to the effect of "Lithuanians are coming", which suggest more widespread literacy than might otherwise be expected. Certainly, the many knights and serving brothers of burgher origin who kept the account books were literate. Just as certainly, popular and scholarly opinion is against extending this ability to the knights, just as many still believe erroneously that knights did not bathe or learn foreign languages. In the Baltic, at least, saunas were very popular and some knowledge of the local languages was essential.(89)
Nineteenth-century German historians exaggerated the modern nature of the Grandmaster's state, just as contemporary Polish novelists overplayed the tyrannical, bureaucratic governmental regulation of every aspect of life.(90) Germans liked to think of the medieval Prussian state as the germ of early-modern Brandenburg, with the Teutonic Knights becoming the modern Prussian Junkers. That was not so, but that still does not prevent the public today, and even more than a few historians, from continuing to believe it.(91)
So ready was the educated public to think of Marienburg as the capital of a Prussian state that numismatists long sought to locate the mint which surely must have been there. In fact, coins were traditionally minted in Thorn (Toru), then later in Danzig (Gdask).(92) Similarly, the view of the Teutonic Knights as essentially secular (as opposed to practical--another proof of the modern era's central anti-clerical bias) has badly distorted our understanding of the organization. The major officers (Großgebietiger) were like a Grandmaster's council in that they were entrusted with the most important posts and were expected to speak first at assemblies, but they were not like modern government ministers or cabinet members in that their titles indicated specialized duties. In fact, most of them had similar responsibilities for regional government and convent discipline as did the castellans of smaller districts, outside of those rare occasions when they were all together; at those times it was important to assure that there would be no question, say, that the Marshal was in command of the army when the Grandmaster was not present.(93)
Modern studies of castle designs demonstrate the importance of convent life and liturgy to the knights and their servants.(94) Of course, reading the Order's chronicles and correspondence could demonstrate this adequately. On the other hand, how much easier it is to cite the order's enemies and whisper, "hypocrisy," perhaps unaware that "hypocrisy" was the favorite accusation of the Teutonic Knights for the Polish and Lithuanian rulers.(95)
This was an era in which words were spoken loudly, in which self-righteousness was considered a virtue, and scholarly detachment was as rare as on modern university campuses. Struggles for office and influence, whether based on political, personal, or religious motives, may not have been pretty, but they were impressive in their scope and ruthlessness; similar to personal rivalries among modern politicians, traces of these disputes rarely failed to appear even on inappropriate occasions, though they were could be suspended for impressive rituals of friendship with the erstwhile foes.
As best we can judge, the personal disputes among members of the Teutonic Order were far less harmful than those found in any typical court. The Teutonic Knights were at least spared the complications of married life, competition to display the latest fad in clothing, and the need to provide livings and marriages for children. Moreover, court intrigue was usually less desperately contested than high politics. Of course, the stakes in high politics were much greater: who owned the land, who held the high offices and collected the taxes; what laws were passed; which customs were enforced; what language was spoken; and, in the most extreme case, what religion was adopted.(96) As we have seen, Vytautas, Jagiello and the Grandmaster provided a three-sided free-for-all, with a Two against One appearing from time to time, whenever the One was about to become too powerful.
The Changing Scene
The rapid changes occurring in the European world had special consequences for the crusading movement. Nobody saw a way to revive the crusades to the Holy Land, and only few even discussed seriously the means by which Constantinople could be rescued from the Turks. Islam was on the advance, Christendom on the defensive.
That fact had important implications for the Teutonic Knights, whose expeditions against the Lithuanian pagans were approaching an end, the victorious conclusion of sixteen decades of bitter warfare. Recent grandmasters had made this possible by playing Vytautas against his cousin, extorting from each formal concessions of Samogitia in return for military aid in their struggle for supremacy in Lithuania. Had the Grandmaster been a secular ruler or a member of the secular clergy this would have been an understandable exploitation of his neighbors' troubles; however, the Teutonic Order was part of the regular clergy. This made it possible for Polish spokesmen to say that because Vytautas and Jagiello had both become Roman Christians, the Teutonic Knights should remain neutral in the Lithuanian disputes. They even questioned whether the Teutonic Order should continue to exist as an independent state now that there was no longer any justification for continuing the crusade from Prussia: Polish friars were baptizing the Lithuanians and building churches in the major cities,(97) it was time for the Teutonic Knights to leave the Baltic and go fight the Turks.
This argument did not yet apply to Samogitia (emaitija), which still remained pagan--many years after the other Lithuanians became Roman Catholics. In the late 1390's Vytautas had assisted the Teutonic Knights to conquer it in return for help against Tamberlane's Tatar-Turkish khans on the steppes, and for Grandmaster Conrad's potential help against Jagiello, should the new ruler of Poland once again attempt to make himself master of Lithuania.
After the Treaty of Sallinwerder in 1398 guaranteed the cooperation of the Lithuanians and Poles in conquering Samogitia, the Teutonic Knights believed that the defense of Livonia would provide a justification for continuing the crusading tradition in the Baltic, for it was in Livonia that the Teutonic Knights faced the Russian Orthodox warriors of Novgorod and Moscow. The Teutonic Knights were represented there by the Livonian Order, a largely autonomous body of knights and priests speaking the Low German language, supervised loosely by the Grandmaster, and cooperating closely with the Teutonic Knights in Prussia in military ventures against the Samogitians and with Vytautas against Novgorod and Pskov.(98) But that alone provided insufficient reason for maintaining the Order in Prussia. Nor were western Christians fully persuaded by secret warnings that the consort of the Polish queen was not a dependable convert, requiring the Teutonic Knights to be ready to fight Poland at a moment's notice. However, the Teutonic Order was accustomed to taking unpopular stands--for much of its two hundred year history it had experienced efforts by popes, emperors and neighboring rulers and prelates to dictate policy, and it had observed how few of these efforts reflected anything beyond the ambitions and interests of those giving advice and orders. Unlike the Templars, the Teutonic Order had learned to think for itself and act in its own defense; death at the stake had no attractions for the knights and officers of the Teutonic Knights, nor were they willing to follow blindly political decisions reached hundreds of miles away by bureaucrats who could not have found Lithuania on a map, if they could have found a map with Lithuania on it. At no time did this independent spirit seem more necessary than in late 1398 when the queen found herself, to almost universal surprise and delight, pregnant. Unfortunately, the child, a daughter, was delivered prematurely June 22. On July 17, Jadwiga died.
Even at the very end one can see the differences separating the two rulers. Jagiello had written the queen to decorate the bedroom and room with gold and finery to guarantee future pregnancies. To which she had responded that she had abandoned such secular pomp as sterile evils, because fertility came not from jewels and gold but humility.(99) Not much evidence of a joy in life.
The Poles saw the queen's death as a tragedy. Thinking members of the Teutonic Order did, too, because she had told the castellan of Thorn, "As long as we are alive, the order need not be concerned, but once we are dead, you will certainly have a war with Poland."(100) Jadwiga was widely regarded as a saint. She supported education (willing her fortune to the university in Cracow), the spread of Christianity into Lithuania, and peace with the crusaders. Her marriage to Jagiello at an age of twelve or thirteen,(101) was a self-imposed martyrdom designed to further these goals. In 1398 she had negotiated personally with the grandmaster over the return of occupied Polish lands, and she had excluded her husband from these talks, lest he undermine her efforts to create an atmosphere of trust and friendship.
The Queen's contemporaries mourned, and modern scholars have joined them. All considered Jadwiga far more than a young monarch--for some she was the spokesperson for, perhaps the creator of, far-reaching policies designed to extend Poland's influence eastward while maintaining peace on all other frontiers, a noble personality who went beyond private morality to speak on behalf of an enlarged concept of public service. Although "the application of Christian ethics in politics" was not an unusual goal in the medieval world, it had been so long absent in Poland that its advocacy by an attractive, intelligent and personable ruler who had the quiet authority and the patient will to enforce her wishes, made a lasting impression on her people.(102) This impression was made all the deeper by the contrast to her successor. However one might admire her husband for his sagacity, forcefulness and perseverance, no contemporary ever mistook Jagiello for a saint.
Vytautas and Anna hurried to Cracow for the funeral ceremonies. Apparently Jagiello was ready to abandon Poland and return to Lithuania. He was not a happy man: his command of languages was so poor that he could not participate in any discussions with foreign rulers without a translator; he was illiterate, and he took astrological predictions very seriously. However, Vytautas certainly did not want him back in the Grand Duchy, and he could argue persuasively that Jagiello was indispensable in Poland--only his presence in the kingdom could prevent a Polish move eastward to challenge Lithuanian hegemony in Rus'. Polish churchmen certainly spoke to him about the good that Poland could do in civilizing the East.(103) Strengthened in his resolve, Jagiello assumed the role of king/regent, telling his supporters that he would be an active ruler in Poland's interests, assuring his enemies that he was only governing on behalf of his daughter, the heiress to the late queen. When the daughter followed her mother to the grave within a month, Jagiello began to look rather desperately for an unmarried female with Piast or Angevin blood. His advisors quickly found her in Anna, the young niece of Count Hermann of Cilly, a granddaughter of Casimir the Great; her cousin, Barbara, was soon thereafter espoused to Sigismund of Hungary. Jagiello's daughter had lived just long enough for him to make arrangements with the churchmen and magnates to become king; it now remained for him to govern in such a way that he could retain his office.(104)
Vytautas, meanwhile, was engaged in the east, in Smolensk at the start of winter 1398-1399 and in Polotsk in February,(105) then in the summer on the steppe, rallying to him all the khans who were properly frightened by Tamberlane's ruthless methods. Tokhtamysh became a vassal prince, eagerly supporting Vytautas' drive toward the Crimea. In this, Vytautas was joined by several prominent Rus'ian princes, but, of course, those eastern dukes who had defied Tamberlane on his earlier march toward Moscow now had to protect their own immediate frontiers. Vytautas' advance in August 1399 from Kiev toward the Crimea could be joined only by the western Rus'ian dukes. In his pride Vytautas demanded of the chief Tatar khan submission and an annual tax: "The Lord has submitted all lands to me, and you should also submit to me. Then you will be as my son and I will be to you as a father, and you will pay me every year the taxes and duties. In case you do not want to do thus, you will be my slave and I will put all your horde to the sword."(106)
The grand plan had been to liberate the remaining Rus'ian states from the Tatar Yoke by employing Rus'ian troops, the grandmaster's artillery and Polish knights, first against the Tatars on the steppe to open the way to the Black Sea, then against the Turks in the Balkans. Relying on a wagon fort, the wagons bound together with chains, to stop charging horsemen, Vytautas planned to use the longer range of his artillery to offset the Tatar archery. By campaigning in August, he would avoid the wet weather that might make the gunpowder useless. This plan went awry when Vytautas was taken in by Mongol-Turkish guile. First Tamberlane's khan proposed a three-day truce that allowed reinforcements to arrive, then he feigned a retreat, luring the Lithuanian horde into pursuing him. On the steppe, away from the wagon fort, Vytautas could not employ his artillery effectively. When Tatar forces suddenly appeared from ambush, Tokhtamysh fled the battlefield, leaving the Christians to fight their way out as best they could. Evidentially, Tokhtamysh was not willing to risk his life on the prospects of a multi-national army standing up to the disciplined Mongolian-Turkish forces. The Tatars surrounded the Lithuanian army, shot the knights' horses out from under them, then closed in for the kill; they then took the wagon fort without much difficulty, since most of the defenders had fled, leaving the shattered Christian forces no place to rally. The slowest Christians were slaughtered or taken prisoner for sale, but this probably delayed the pursuers only for the time necessary to loot the dead, round up the horses and captives, and look for new victims. Vytautas' army bled to death in the massacre, some perishing on the battlefield, more dying during the rout. Nine Teutonic Knights failed to return home, and their two trusted Samogitian translators, the knights Hanus and Thomas Surville, died as well. Vytautas fled to Kiev in the company of his brother, Sigismund of Starodub, and the castellan of Ragnit, Marquard von Salzbach, followed closely by Tatars, who ravaged the land as far west as Luck. Apparently, the Tatars were in not in pursuit of Vytautas, but of Tokhtamysh, who meanwhile plundered his way across the country in order to feed his forces and to leave little for the use of his pursuers.(107)
The Chronicle of Novgorod summarized what was to be learned from all this: "Thus did God bring the pagan Tartars upon the land of Lithuania because of the pride of their Knyaz [prince], for God had given Vitovt [Vytautas] to the land of Lithuania as its Veliki Knyaz, for the sins of the Christians. For Knyaz Vitovt had previously been a Christian, and his name was Alexander, but he renounced the Orthodox faith and Christianity, and adopted the Polish faith, and perverted the holy churches into service that is hateful to God."(108)
Vytautas' plans had ended in disaster. The battle on the Vorskla cost the lives of thousands of Lithuanian warriors, several Lithuanian dukes, possibly the ruler of Moldavia as well, and many hundreds of cavalry from Poland and Prussia. Vytautas was never again to wade his horse in the Black Sea.(109) Moreover, his Rus'ian subjects immediately began to plot rebellion, renewing the long struggle over Smolensk that he had considered finished. Basil, for his part, faced rebellion in Novgorod. It was absolutely necessary for Vytautas to seek an immediate reconciliation with the Poles, lest Jagiello turn on him as well.(110)
Vytautas was never one to take a defeat for a setback. He quickly realized that central Lithuania would remain loyal to him. He had lost a great battle, indeed, but no previous ruler had even dared challenge the Tatars so boldly. Within a short while he turned his eyes in other directions than those where he would encounter Tamberlane's Mongols and Turks. Once he had stabilized the situation in Smolensk,(111) he reconsidered his options, looking again at the bargain he had made with Grandmaster Conrad von Jungingen, by which he had given the crusaders Samogitia in return for peace and technical assistance. He also looked again at the hurried agreements he had made with Poland. He had not forgotten that Jagiello was largely responsible for his father's murder and his own imprisonment. Most importantly, he knew that Jagiello wanted to rule in Lithuania and would not hesitate to do away with him if he thought he could do so safely; therefore, it was of vital importance that Vytautas tend to several hitherto-neglected matters at home, especially his policy concerning Samogitia. His surrender of that province had not been popular with his boyars, many of whom had ancestral roots there.(112)
In 1401 Vytautas and Jagiello settled their remaining differences in the Vilnius-Radom Union. The Lithuanian boyars and the Polish nobles, meeting simultaneously but separately, voted to acknowledge Vytautas as Grand Prince [magnus dux] during his lifetime, then to accept King Jagiello as Supreme Prince [supremus dux] and his heir. Once there was no question as to who was the senior partner in the relationship, it was possible to formulate a joint policy concerning Samogitia.(113) Vytautas then built Roman Catholic churches in Gardinas and, somewhat later, Trakai, and perhaps two or three other fortresses; he thereby moved western Christianity beyond Vilnius to the provincial centers.(114)
Although there were complaints about the policies the crusaders had followed in Samogitia, it is not easy for an outsider to see how the government was particularly onerous. The Teutonic Knights seemed to be well-aware of the cumulative effect of past accusations of misgovernment, and they had long found it difficult to defend their policies in any of the lands they had conquered. One thing they did know was that someone would complain no matter what they did--if they imposed Christian values, the liberal faction of the Church would complain; if they did not, the conservatives would raise a cry. Consequently, the Teutonic Order tended to follow its own experience and rely on common sense. Having learned early that sudden innovations in native life provoke uprisings, they tended to make minimal changes in the local societies they conquered in Livonia and Prussia; and they applied these lessons to Samogitia. They especially refrained from forced baptisms. They did insist upon opening the villages to western contacts, especially the visits by western merchants, who were supposed to demonstrate that Christendom had more to offer than fire and sword. This policy had worked well in the thirteenth century, despite having been bitterly denounced by every generation of churchmen, especially the archbishops of Riga and Gniezno, whose conflict of interest with the Teutonic Order was so obvious that they had not been able to persuade any pope to confirm the accusations and penalties laid upon the crusading order by visiting legates.(115) What the churchmen argued for was, first, a drastic intervention in the life of the native peoples in order to impose upon them western customs and mores; second, less oppression of these subjects; and third, giving the lands and administrative responsibilities to them, the more benevolent and less grasping representatives of the Church, who would somehow fill the land with churches and pious subjects without raising taxes and tithes or injuring the rights of the native peoples. To put the problem in a nutshell, Christian ideals were in conflict with Christian experience, the idealism of outsiders encountering the practical knowledge of the crusader order.
The Future of the Crusades
Not all the difficulties the Teutonic Knights encountered came from their political opponents in Poland and Lithuania. The plague struck Prussia with devastating effect in 1398: entire villages and cities were depopulated, and eighty knights of the order died. In 1399 the cold was so fierce that the Baltic Sea froze between Germany and Denmark. Nevertheless, crusaders continued to arrive to participate in expeditions against the now-desperate Samogitians (who were undoubtedly hard hit by disease and harsh weather as well).(116) The grandmaster's effort was directed at crushing the military resources of the pagans, not toward making them into Christians immediately. This policy of avoiding forced baptisms created considerable difficulties for the Teutonic Order, since it ran counter to the expectations of contemporary churchmen, visiting crusaders, and probably most modern readers.(117)
The Teutonic Knights had achieved the essential goals of their crusades in Livonia and Prussia by various means: they had converted some native peoples by persuading them of the advantages of a western alliance (these were usually weak tribes which had been oppressed before the arrival of the crusaders), they had assisted bishops and monarchs in forcibly converting others (who remained potential rebels, as the Estonian experience in 1343 demonstrated), they had encouraged the conversion of native rulers (as in Lithuania in 1251 and 1386--the first of which they welcomed, the second they feared as a tactical maneuver to disrupt the crusade), and they had depopulated the lands of others. The policy adopted in Samogitia was to encourage rather than force the native peoples to accept Christianity. This was controversial, because at the time there was little readiness in theological circles or secular society to accept the idea that ordinary people should be given choices in such matters. The representatives of the grandmasters found it very difficult to argue that a three-pointed policy of rewarding vassals who adopted western practices, of allowing priests to preach but forbidding them to make demands on their hearers, and of using the military talents of still-pagan or semi-pagan subjects against their former rulers was wiser in both the short and long run than an effort to flood the country with priests and episcopal tax-collectors. However, everyone acquainted with East-Central Europe knew that there were almost no Lithuanian-speaking priests available (the university at Cracow which Jadwiga had proposed for training priests had not yet even been founded), and that the quality of priests of any nationality who could be recruited to serve in the Baltic was, well, poor almost beyond description.(118) Hence, the "ideal" policy was clearly impractical. As a result, in the short run the Teutonic Knights were successful in meeting every challenge to their Samogitian policy, especially when they could speak to prelates who had experience in the real world of people and politics; they were less able to persuade intellectuals and idealists, many of whom stubbornly held to the notion that the pagans were eager to embrace the Christian message, if only the Christians would stop killing them. For the moment, the Teutonic Knights' arguments based on practical experience still carried the day in every debate. However, the world of ideas was changing as rapidly as the political constellation was rotating.
While the Teutonic Knights stubbornly held to their traditional goals and well-tried methods, elsewhere in Europe there was a ground swell of interest in new crusades. Numerous individuals proposed plans by which the larger goals of Christendom could be advanced by military action.
The most important of these writers was Philippe de Mézičres, a French crusader turned monk, who in 1389 published a plan to reorganize the crusading orders and revitalize efforts to defeat the enemies of the Cross.(119) In the years that followed, he urged English and French knights to make a two-pronged attack through expeditions to Prussia and a crusade against the Turks in the Balkans.(120) The fact that the public was more drawn to the Balkan situation than that of the Baltic was sufficient reason for the Teutonic Knights to disassociate themselves from such projects.(121) In any case, the Teutonic Knights knew well how difficult it was to make chivalrous playboys attend to serious business. During the last siege of Vilnius, the French crusaders had wanted to joust with the Polish knights in the garrison.(122) As long as the Grandmaster was in command, as Conrad von Jungingen was in Prussia, he could control such anarchistic tendencies; in the Balkans, where the Order lacked a strong territorial base with numerous auxiliary warriors, that would be another matter. Of course, the French knights complained about the restrictions, just as English and Scottish knights resented their hosts' unwillingness to allow them to brawl with one another in bars.(123) Only the Genoese crossbowmen--famous mercenaries sent by the wealthy Duke of Burgundy--seemed to be truly disciplined.
At the same moment that foreign knights began to lose interest in coming to the Baltic on crusades, the burghers and secular knights of Prussia were becoming less willing to make sacrifices and put up with the rapidly waxing arrogance of the Teutonic Knights. As long as the burghers and knights could justify their hardships as military necessities, they suffered in silence. Now that the war seemed won, they began to grumble over the continued demands for their services and taxes, and they bristled more easily when confronted with insults and discourteous behavior.(124) This did not go unnoticed. Grandmasters Conrad Zöllner (1382-1390), Conrad von Wallenrode (1391-1393)(125) and Conrad von Jungingen (1394-1407) sought to discipline their castellans and knights so that they would not antagonize their subjects, but the task was too great. Everywhere in Europe nobles looked down on their inferiors and resented efforts by assemblies and parliaments to moderate their behavior; what the knights had been taught growing up in Germany could hardly be unlearned in Prussia.(126)
The approaching end to the frontier warfare was probably viewed with mixed emotions by the native warrior classes. On the one hand, they would worry less about the loss of property, family members, and serfs. On the other, they would lose the opportunities for personal enrichment, gaining status in the eyes of their peers, and winning admiring glances from pretty girls. Even more important in the longer run, their talents in irregular warfare, scouting, and looting were no longer as highly valued by their lords, who were already wondering how to convert military service into cash payments. This, hardly different from practices long since introduced into England, had the same effect as on the island kingdom, where the old Saxon warrior class was divided into those who became the new lower nobility and those who became taxpayers; and the upper nobility was composed of foreigners, Normans.(127)
The last great moment of cooperation between the Grandmaster and his subjects was at this moment, when Conrad von Jungingen acted to correct a desperate situation on the island of Gotland which threatened all their interests.
1. Nowak, "Kaiser Siegmund und die polnische Monarchie," 423; Johnson, Central Europe, 47-48, notes the regional trend toward electing foreign kings: "In each case, there were relative advantages and disadvantages...." Among these were having the additional resources of the second kingdom available, avoiding civil war, extorting new constitutional privileges from the candidates, and guaranteeing that the new ruler would not be strong enough to endanger the authority of the disproportionately numerous nobility; see Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, 20-25.
2. Bálint Hóman, "Hungary, 1302-1490," CMH, VIII, 599-603; 'König/Kaiser Sigismund", 2-4.
3. Frantiek Kavka, "Zum Plan der Luxemburgischen Thronfolge in Polen (1368-1382). Strittige Forschungsfragen," Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, 13 (Spring 1986), 261-262, 271-273, 278-281 for the Angevin connections; "Kaiser Siegmund und die polnische Monarchie," 424-425; it is a commonplace observation of historians that the excessive power of the nobility was largely responsible for the chronic economic backwardness and political weakness of the states of East Central Europe--a heritage that has not been shaken off yet. This is well described by Philip Longworth, The Making of Eastern Europe: From Prehistory to Postcommunism (2nd edition. New York: St. Martin's, 1997).
4. Sigismund had been promised in marriage the day his birth was announced. In time, Charles IV reassessed his son's prospects. The intense and complex negotiations through which each dynasty sought to maximizes its opportunities are well described in "Verlobungen und Ehen Kaiser Sigismund von Luxemburg," 265-271.
5. For Louis' career, see the collection of essays, Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland (edited S. B. Vardy, G. Grosschmid, and L. S. Domonkos. Boulder: East European Monographs; New York: Columbia, 1986); Richard Reifenscheid, Die Habsburger in Lebensbildern (Wien-Köln-Graz: Styria, 1982), 57-58.
6. Kavka, "Zum Plan der Luxemburgischen Thronfolge in Polen," 257-258, 264-271, 277-283, for the complex plans of Charles IV; Kaiser Sigismund, 17-23; Kaiser Sigismund in Ungarn, 7-11; "Einwirkungen Böhmens," 636-639; Friedrich Heer, The Holy Roman Empire (trans. George Weidenfeld. New York and Washington: Praeger, 1968), 116-118; Theodore Lindner, "Sigmund," ADB, XXXIV, 267; the problems inherent in a Polish-Brandenburg alliance can be seen in Historia Pomorza, II, which discusses Polish interests in West Pomerania, which had come under the domination of the Brandenburg dukes. In retrospect, one wonders if the marriage might have been an easier method of acquiring these lands than a century of warfare.
7. "König/Kaiser Sigismund", 4.
8. "Kaiser Siegmund und die polnische Monarchie," 426-427.
9. Geschichte Schlesiens, 226-228, 232.
10. Wenceslas II died of illness in 1305; his seventeen-year-old son, Wenceslas III was murdered in August of 1306. This was to have profound consequences for Silesia--which splintered into small territories, some of which drifted to Bohemia and Germany--for Poland, and for the Teutonic Order, which had worked closely with Wenceslas II.
11. Dugosz, XII, 417-419, 437, 440.
12. Grandmaster Conrad Zöllner von Rothenstein was important in persuading Sigismund that the effort to acquire two crowns was not going to succeed. "König/Kaiser Sigismund", 4-5.
13. Dugosz, XII, 425-427, 446; Oscar Halecki, "From the Union with Hungary to the Union with Lithuania: Jadwiga, 1374-99, CHP, 192-196; Alexander Bruce-Boswell, "Poland and Lithuania in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries," CMH, VIII, 566-567; Jagiellonian Poland, 16-22; Kaiser Sigismund, 25; "Kaiser Siegmund und die polnische Monarchie," 424.
14. Hoensch blames this on Elisabeth. The problem of the couple being related in the third and fourth degrees had been resolved by a papal dispensation. "Verlobungen und Ehen Kaiser Sigismund", 269, 271-272.
15. For overview of Venetian policy, Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, 24-26.
16. Dugosz, XII, 443-447, 451-452, 456, 476; John B. Freed, "Brandenburg," DMA, II, 361-362; Kaiser Sigismund, 27-28; Kaiser Sigismund in Ungarn, 17-34; Lindner, "Sigmund," 268; 'König/Kaiser Sigismund", 5-6; "Verlobungen und Ehen Kaiser Sigismund", 272.
17. Kaiser Sigismund, 26-27; Central Europe, 50; Karol Szajnocha, Jadwiga i Jagiello, 1374-1413 (Warsawa: Pastwowy Instytut Wydawniczy), III, 8-98; Charlotte Kellogg, Jadwiga, Poland's Great Queen (New York: MacMillan, 1932), 168-201; an excellent discussion of the date of Jadwiga's birth (clearly 1374) and the possible consummation of her marriage with Wilhelm is in Timothy Brennean's War, Religion, and Politics in the Medieval Baltic. Relations between the Papacy and the Teutonic Order during the Great Schism (MA Thesis: University of Kansas, 1995), 96-106; the ambitions of the Polish nobles can be seen in the titles awarded their young queen. In 1387, after her marriage, she was "Heduigis Dei gratia regina Poloniae, Lithuaniaeque princeps supprema et haeres Russiae," in 1397 after the death of her sister, she was also "Hedvigis reginae Poloniae et haeredis Hungariae." Zbiór Dokumentów Maopolskich. IV (Wrocaw, Warsawa, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 1969), 225-226, 300.
18. Dugosz, XII, 458-459; for his early life, Król Jagiello, 28-32. Being reared as a pagan, it seems that Jogaila and the other sons of Juliana of Tver were intended to rule the Lithuanian lands, while the Orthodox sons of the first marriage, to Maria of Vitebsk, were to inherit the Rus'ian lands. Genealogical charts showing Lithuanian ties to Christian rulers, in Rowell, "Pious Princesses," 77f; for Jogaila's easy-going ways, a form of patience which hid a deep streak of forethought and slyness, "Kaiser Siegmund und die polnische Monarchie," 426.
19. Westrussland, 6-7; In late 1995, as this manuscript was being written, there were still "discussions" as to whether Ukraine had a history. See Slavic Review, 54/3(Fall 1995), 658-719; for good maps, Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, 17, 21; for the rapidly developing economic and administrative networks in the Lithuanian-speaking heartland, see Juhan Kakh and Enn Tarvel, An Economic History of the Baltic Countries (Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell, 1997), 30-31.
20. Jan Zaprudnik, Belarus. At a Crossroads in History (Boulder: Westwood, 1993), 19, after emphasizing the voluntary nature of the political arrangements, concludes, "To speak of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus', and Samogitia as a purely or even predominantly a Lithuanian state, then, is to distort the past by investing it with terms and concepts from an entirely different era." Lithuanian historians, of course, have disagreed. See Artras Terekinas, "Between Romantic Nostalgia and Historio-pedagogic sentiments: a few ways to discourse the Lithuanian Past," Lituanas, 43/3 (1997), 11-36.
21. Orest Subtelny, Ukraine, A History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), 73.
22. For groups, not for individuals. Subjects were expected to conform to their ethnic religion. For example, Jews to remain Jews, with the head of the community responsible to the ruler for everyone under his jurisdiction. Toleration was a policy of careful equilibrium--no one was to be worried about losing members to the competition.
23. Juozas Jaktas, "Lithuania to World War I," Lithuania 700 Years (trans. Algirdas Budreckis; ed. Albertas Gerutis. New York: Manylands, 1969), 51; Dzieje Witoda, 7-12; for the attitude toward serfs, slaves, and the lower classes in general, see Ivinskis' Bauernstandes, 39-62, 98; owmiaski, throughout his Studia, reviews in detail the pre-Christian class system.
24. Jerzy Koczowski, La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale (Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1993) in his collected essays, describes early Polish efforts to establish Catholic churches and monasteries in Rus' and Lithuania, VIII, 86-87, XIII, 506, XIV, 535; XV, 139-142, he remarks on the unusual situation of a pagan/orthodox state, and the advantage for Poland in bringing to an end the terrible border wars with the Lithuanians and acquiring an ally against the Teutonic Order; Johnson, Central Europe, 41-42, notes that states tend "to expand in the direction of least resistance," i.e., from France onward toward the east. Moreover, each state tends to view the one directly to the east with disdain.
25. Subtelny, Ukraine, 73; Russia and the Mongol Yoke, 91-94; Medieval Russia, 204-206, 216; the Tatars (or Mongols, as one customarily interchanges the nomenclature of a multi-ethnic nomadic society ruled by khans descended from Genghis Khan and his generals) overran Kievan Rus' between 1238 and 1240, then ravaged Poland and Hungary in 1241. E D. Phillips, The Mongols (New York: Praeger, 1969), 72-76.
26. Westrussland, 11-19; Motives of West Russian Nobles, 3, 7-15, Król Jagiello, 32-33.
27. Dugosz, XII, 405; Jogaila's brutal elimination of his enemies in 1381 demonstrates the pertinence of the warning. It was no accident that important nobles fled into exile when civil conflicts erupted. See examples in Rowell, "Pious Princesses," 20, 25-26, 32-33. Of course, intrigue and assassination are not unknown in the West. The question is how pervasive the practice was and how acceptable.
28. Zenonas Ivinskis, "Jogaila," LE, II, 532-533; Saulius Suiedlis, "Juliana," LE, II, 555-556; for general background, see S. C. Rowell, "A pagan's word: Lithuanian diplomatic procedure 1200-1385, Journal of Medieval History, 18(1992), 145-160; Formation of the Great Russian State, 262-264; also Gotthold Rhode, Die Ostgrenze Polens. Politische Entwicklung, kulturelle Bedeutung und geistige Auswirkung, I: Im Mittelalter bis zum Jahre 1401 (Köln-Graz: Böhlau, 1955), 325-341; Dzieje Witoda, 23-25; Stadia, 372-385, with emphasis on the role of the nobles as the representatives of the nation.
29. Posilge, 111; Król Wadysaw Jagiello, 34-35; Król Jagiello, 36-37, 51; Dzieje Witoda, 26.
30. Andrew, ruling in Polotsk, was dependent on the Germans in many ways. First of all, for trade with Riga, second, for military help. He became more and more needful of the Livonian Order's protection. LUB, III, 456-458.
31. Very little is known about Vytautas' youth. He bore a pagan name and was reared as a pagan. He married Maria, the daughter of a minor prince--the name demonstrating that she was a Christian--and together they founded a church in Brest. When she died, he married Anna, the daughter of Swiatas, the governor of Smolensk. She bore him one daughter, Sophia. Dzieje Witoda, 20-22, 376-377; Itinerarium Witolda, 78, has almost no information about his movements until 1382.
32. Dugosz, XII, 407; Dzieje Witoda, 27-31; the Livonian Order was the semi-autonomous branch of the Teutonic Order in what is today Latvia and Estonia. It was then a "patchwork quilt of territorial fiefs" but it gave the appearance of unity and organization. Northern Europe, 44-45.
33. Król Wadisaw Jagiello, I, 44-46; Król Jagiello, 40-45, for discussion of who had the opportunity to murder Kstutis and would profit most from it, or whether he might have died a natural death; Dzieje Witoda, 31-38; Vytautas' own story is found in SSrP, III, 712-714; Posilge, 123; Die aeltere Hochmeisterchronik, 602-603; the treaty is in LUB, III, 393-396; Ivinskis, "Jogaila," 537, notes that Lithuanians have never forgiven him for these actions, while Polish attitudes treat him as a national hero, occasionally failing to notice his Lithuanian origins. In sum, "among the many studies published about the character of Jogaila, few are without prejudice"; Vytautas the Great, 21, is a good example of this: "Jogaila was not very able as an administrator. He was by nature, as well as by training and inclination, unfitted for the responsibilities of rulership." For a study of Birut's importance as a priestess from a powerful clan centered in Palanga, in coastal Samogitia, see Rowell, "Pious Princesses," 15-20. Jogaila, like Kstutis before him, Rowell asserts, was eliminating threats to his exercise of power.
34. Dugosz, XII, 412-413; Dzieje Witoda, 39-41; Vytautas the Great, 25-28, prefers the version that Anna's maid, Alena, took Vytautas' place and paid for her audacity with her life; Król Jagiello, 45, prefers to think that Jagiello assisted in the escape; Itinerarium Witolda, 79; Chronicle of Novgorod, 158-159, summarized it thus: "That year there was a tumult in Lithuania, God inflicting on them His anger: they rose against each other and killed the Veliki Knyaz Kestuti Gediminovich and his Boyars, but his son Vitovt escaped to the Nemtsy. Much mischief was done to the Lithuanian country; for Kestuti had deprived Yagailo of the sovereignty."
35. Dugosz, XII, 409-411, 442; Dzieje, 40-44; Król Wadisaw Jagiello, II, 357-366, disagrees emphatically, dismissing Vytautas' tendency to seek a military solution to all problems and only thinking about Lithuania, whereas Jagiello was concerned about Poland, Lithuania and Rus', and always sought a peaceful resolution of crises; LUB, III, 399-401, for the Grandmaster's declaration of war on Jogaila because the Lithuanian prince refused to answer letters, avoided a personal meeting that had been arranged, failed to release prisoners (but instead sold them to Rus'ians), failed to honor the promise to surrender Samogitia, and had attacked the Order's Masovian allies. See LUB, III, 488-495, for more detail.
36. Król Jagiello, 46-58; Król Wadisaw Jagiello, I, 70; we do not have the text to this agreement, and even the text to the Krivias treaty is disputed between Polish and Lithuanian historians. Westrussland, 24-25; for example, Jonas Daunikaukas, "Kriavo akto autentikumas," Spaudai paruoe (ed. Benedict Maiuka. Chicago: Institute of Lithuanian Studies, 1976), 51-70, argues that it is a seventeenth-century forgery; this articles is also found as "Autentyczno Aktu Krewskiego," Lituano-Slavica Posnaniesnia. Stadia Historica, II (1987), 126-142, with a dissent by the editors and a German summary, 142-145; compare to the Henryk owmiaski's dissertation, "Wcielenie Litwy do Polsky w 1386 roku," reprinted Ibid, 37-123, arguing that the Act of Krewo assumed that Lithuania would be incorporated into the Polish state and that only subsequent resistance on the part of the Lithuanians and political complications prevented this from occurring.
37. Posilge, 130-131; Die aeltere Hochmeisterchronik, 607; Dzieje, 47. Among the prominent prisoners was Marquard von Salzbach, the castellan of Marienburg on the Memel (Nemunas); Itinerarium Witolda, 79.
38. We know almost nothing of Vytautas' activities in this year beyond his being at Krivias and Vilnius in the summer. Itinerarium Witolda, 80.
39. Vytautas' rebaptism presents some serious theological problems. Vytautas the Great, 33, denies that the ceremony was anything but a confirmation of the earlier baptism. However, he does seem to have been baptized in the Orthodox faith to qualify as governor of Kiev (an ambition he did not realize), and he is always known officially by the name conferred at this second baptism. Perhaps this was a symbolic washing away of that troublesome error; "Calendarii Cracoviensis, MPH, VI, 658: "sunt baptizati Iagelloni Vladislaus et Wyganth Alexander nomen imponitur." Koczowski, La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale, notes that the question of requiring rebaptism was a heated one in Poland at that time; the Polish churchmen generally insisted, but Jogaila's orthodox relatives refused, XV, 155-157; Lewicki, 5, in contrast, cites Roman Catholic and Orthodox spokesmen who with equal vigor adamantly declared that they alone were true Christians.
40. God's Playground, I, 118: "by the splash of baptismal water, Jogaila was transformed into a Christian prince." Also, 116-117; Saulius Suiedlis, "Vytautas," LE, I, 208-209; Jaktas, "Lithuania to World War I," 58-60; Król Wadisaw Jagiello, 72-73.
41. Dugosz, XII, 460-469; Povilas Reklaitis, "Die Burgkirchen in Litauen," Commentationes Balticae, VI/VII, 5 (Bonn: Baltisches Forschungsinstitut, 1959), 211-216, 236-247; and one can visit the crypt of St. Stanislaus today and see the remains of each successive structure. Koczowski, La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale, XV, 145-149, is struck by the absence of the Queen and her bishops. This means, in his opinion, that the important decisions were made by the Lithuanian magnates and boyars during the king's visit--presumably discussions confined to the noble representatives of the nation--and that only after the conclusion of the meeting were the mendicant priests who accompanied the king allowed to baptize the thousands of instant converts in the river. Poles made up the first generation of priests; Lewicki disagrees fundamentally, 4-13, arguing that each decision was the king's alone and that Lithuania was to be incorporated into the Poland state as an important but nevertheless subordinate province. No Lithuanian boyar dared disagree, but in declaring the Lithuanian boyars noble, Jagiello opened the way for them to do so later.
42. The Nikonian Chronicle, 26-27; Lewicki notes, 63, that when Gregor Zemblak asked Vytautas why he followed the Polish faith and not the Orthodox, Vytautas advised him to go to Rome and speak to the Pope and his advisors, so that all Christians could be united. Until then, he and his people would remain with the "German faith." Shortly thereafter, Gregor did go to the Council of Constance.
43. Posilge, 157; Koczowski, La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale, VIII, 95 and passim for the activities of the Franciscans in the missionary movement.
44. Dennis Deletant, "Moldavia between Hungary and Poland, 1347-1412," Seer, 64/2 (April 1986), 189-205; "König/Kaiser Sigismund", 6.
45. He had Vytautas with him through the second half of 1387, but allowed him to return north in 1388. Itinerarium Witolda, 80.
46. Dugosz, XII, 445-460, 479-481, 488-493; Posilge, 162; Die aeltere Hochmeisterchronik, 617; Die Chronik Wigands von Marburg, SSrP, I, 639-647; Vytautas the Great, 36-42; Dzieje Witoda, 49-64; Itinerarium Witolda, 81; LUB, III, 488-.
47. Lewicki, 31, 34, 37, cites his holding such an important office to support his thesis that from the earliest days of his reign Jagiello intended to absorb Lithuania into Poland.
48. "König/Kaiser Sigismund", 7-8; "Einwirkungen Böhmens," 639.
49. Henryk had apparently only taken first orders, so that it was legal to leave the ranks of the clergy and marry, but he was never able to persuade public opinion of this.
50. "Wigands von Marburg," 647-648, with a footnote indicating that Henryk was still only a deacon, not yet a priest; Posilge, 176-182; Dugosz, XII, 499-501; Dzieje, 64-66; Itinerarium Witolda, 82; after this betrayal, Vytautas the Great, understands on page 65 the grandmaster conducting a war of revenge, but on page 67 says, "Strangely enough, the Teutonic Knights...were not sincere in their desire to make peace with Vytautas."
51. Dugosz, XII, 502, 505, 509; Posilge, 185; Ioannis Dlugossii, "Vitae episcoporum plocensium abbreviatae," MPH, VI, 609; Saulius Suiedlis, "Kaributas," LE, III, 46-47; Zenonas Ivinskis, "Skirgaila," LE, V, 204-205; Witold, 96-108; Deletant, "Moldavia between Hungary and Poland," 205; Dzieje Witoda, 70-75; Lewicki, 36-37, argues forcefully that Vytautas was willingly subservient to Jagiello, that Lithuania was essentially a province of Poland, and that the king appointed and removed officials and changed boundaries without consulting him; Vytautas was back in Samogitia in August and winter of 1394, June of 1395, and April, July, and September of 1396, inbetween his relentless travels throughout his central domains. Itinerarium Witolda, 82-84.
52. Urban, The Samogitian Crusade, 167-225; Christiansen, The Northern Crusades, 155-170; Vytautas the Great, 46-49, 65-71; Antanas Kuas, "Salynas, Treaty of," LE, V, 43-44; LUB, IV, 218-227, for the German and Latin texts of the treaty--which marked the borders in detail, provided for merchants to travel freely and safely, the return of fleeing serfs and farmers, the prevention of attack by third parties, and the abandonment of all claims on one another's lands; also, when on campaign together, each would be responsible for command of his own forces; Klaus Neitmann, "Friede von Sallinwerder zwischen dem Deutschen Orden und Litauen," Ostdeutsche Gedenktage 1998, 331-335.
53. Dugosz, XII, 521-522; Davies, God's Playground, I, comments, 118-119: "For Jadwiga, the experience was extremely painful. She was eleven years old, and virtually alone in a foreign country. She was being told to abandon a young man to whom she had been betrothed since infancy and to wed a pagan bachelor more than three times her age, with whom she could not even converse. She was intelligent, pretty, an accomplished musician and scholar, and entirely helpless.... After such treatment, it is not surprising that she turned to a life of charity."
54. Dugosz, XII, 477.
55. For example, see Jerzy Gadomski, Gotyckie malarstwo tablico we Malopolski 1420-1470 (Warsaw: Pastwowe Wydawnictwo Naukow, 1981); the collected articles of Jerzy Koczowski, La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale describe the Polish church, especially the mendicant orders, in detail. He emphasizes the role of the cult of St. Stanislaus in establishing the liberty of the church from royal control and in encouraging other estates to seek similar protection of their rights. II, 444, VIII, 89, X, 49, 54-55.
56. Ives Renouard, The Avignon Papacy 1305-1403 (trans. Denis Bethell. Hamden, CT: Archon, 1970), 69, 119; Koczowski, "Avignon et la Pologne a l'Époque d'Urbain et de Grégoire XI (1362-1378)," La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale, XIV, 536-537, noting how papal support for Angevin claims on the Hungarian crown complicated life for Queen Elisabeth, who was regent after the death of Louis the Great.
57. Sedlar, East Central Europe, III, 66-72; Orest Subtelny, "Poland," DMA, VIII, 9.
58. Sigismund quickly entered into a marriage pact with Heinrich VIII of Brieg, but the bride was well below the age of marriage and the father was unable to raise the huge dowry he had promised. "Verlobungen und Ehen Kaiser Sigismund", 273.
59. "König/Kaiser Sigismund", 8-9; "Kaiser Siegmund und die polnische Monarchie," 427-428; "Türkeneinfälle", 394-396, for the relatively little information available about the Turkish invasions 1394-1396.
60. Kaiser Sigismund, 66-67; Jadwiga of Anjou, 214-217, 239-240; Rhode, Die Ostgrenze Polens, I, 312-316, 374-377; "König/Kaiser Sigismund", 9-10.
61. Dugosz, XII, 507-508.
62. Kellogg, Jadwiga, 203-285; Halecki is reticent about the queen's dislike of court life and politics. Throughout Jadwiga of Anjou, as on 213, he says that she was continually involved with diplomacy and was, in every way, the driving force behind the policies of peace that he sees being pursued.
63. Die aeltere Hochmeisterchronik, 609; Dugosz, XII, 481-482; on the other hand, Halecki, a great historian utterly enchanted by Jadwiga, confirms her infatuation with Wilhelm, but denies completely any guilty conduct or unhappiness with her marriage. Jadwiga of Anjou, 131-139, 158, 204-205, 246, 255, 271-272; even more biased is the colorful account by Kellogg, Jadwiga, 1-167, and Lucyan Rydel, Królowa Jadwiga (Pozna: Karol Kozowski, 1910) with its many illustrations, some in color.
64. Koczowski, La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale, IX, 95, notes that at least 30 female Piasts entered nunneries of the Poor Clares and 60-70 were buried in Franciscan churches. Hence, she was following family tradition very closely.
65. Helena Krt, Dwór królewski Jadwiga i Jagiey (Krakow: Polskie Towarzystwo Teologiczne, 1987), with a French summary, 205-210; Ivinskis, "Jogaila," 536; life in Cracow is described, with photos from contemporary art in Szajnocha, Jadwiga i Jagiello, II, 546-602.
66. Suiedlis, "Vytautas,"218-220.
67. Dzieje Witoda, 358-383; "Kaiser Siegmund und die polnische Monarchie," 426; the growth of Vilnius is partly to be explained by the presence of German merchants and artisans, whose activities were encouraged and exploited by Vytautas in building up his state. Norbert Angermann, Die Deutschen in Litauen. Ein geschichtlicher Überblick (Lüneburg: Nordostdeutsches Kulturwerk, 1996), 10-13.
68. Nikonian Chronicle, 2-15; Chronicle of Novgorod, 157-158, 161; Formation of the Great Russian State, 264-269; Russia and the Mongol Yoke, 94-100; Rhode, Die Ostgrenze Polens, 336-341; Medieval Russia, 211-215; Król Jagiello, 34-36.
69. Nikonian Chronicle, 27; Formation of the Great Russian State, 276-283; The Mongols and Russia, 258-263, 270-271; Medieval Russia, 213-216; Russia and the Mongol Yoke, 102-103.
70. Nikonian Chronicle, 29-30; Chronicle of Novgorod, 161.
71. Nikonian Chronicle, 27, 45; Posilge, 167-168; Król Wadisaw Jagiello, I, 96-97.
72. Saulius Suiedlis, "Andrew," LE, I, 95; "Kaributas," III, 46-47; and "Vytautas," VI, 211-212; Halecki, "Jadwiga," CHP, 204; Król Wadisaw Jagiello, 99; Dzieje Witoda, 72-74, 330-331; Andrew of Polotsk had been imprisoned by Skirgaila in 1387. Nikonian Chronicle, 27, 51.
73. "Currencies," LE, I, 600-601; "Vytis," LE, VI, 223-224.
74. Dzieje, 84-92; LUB, IV,126-136, 150-153, 201-209, 218-233, for the letters and treaties regarding, first the truce, then the peace treaty. The future of Dorpat was a crucial matter, since the Bishop's cooperation was necessary for any united war against Novgorod. The Samogitians were not included in the peace.
75. Nikonian Chronicle, 86-87, 92; Robert Crummey, The Formation of Moscovy 1304-1613 (London and New York: Longman, 1987), 51-65; A. E. Presniakov, The Formation of the Great Russian State. A Study of Russian History in the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Centuries (trans. A. E. Moorhouse. Chicago: Quadrangle, 1970), 270-284; Martin, Medieval Russia, 201-203; The Mongols and Russia, 271-277; Rhode, Die Ostgrenze Polens, I, 341-356; Russia and the Mongol Yoke, 105-111; Phillips, The Mongols, 132-133; Prawdin, The Mongol Empire. Its Rise and Legacy, 390-464, 469-472; a longer-range analysis of the decline of the Tatar power is Archibald R. Lewis, Nomads and Crusaders: A.D. 1000-1368 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988), 166-171, 178-179, 195, emphasizing peasant revolts, nomadic banditry, the division of the empire into local princedoms, and the revolts of subject peoples under strong rulers who embodied traditional religion and long-established social practices. As the Chinese, Persian, Indic, and Islamic worlds enjoyed the revival of freedom and prosperity, they little cared that their neo-fundamentalist attitudes would retard long-term growth in areas of trade, technology, and thought that were the bases for the West's expansion to exploration, conquest, and world domination.
76. Nikonian Chronicle, 101-104; The Formation of the Great Russian State, 280-281; interestingly, Dominicans established themselves in Kiev, uck and Kamienitz at this time. Koczowski, La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale, XV, 150-152; Itinerarium Witolda, 83.
77. Itinerarium Witolda, 84.
78. Nikonian Chronicle, 109-115; Chronicle of Novgorod, 170-173; Jagiellonian Poland, 76-78; The Formation of the Great Russian State, 283-284.
79. Posilge, 219; Halecki doubts the existence of this tax, Jadwiga of Anjou, 243-244; in "Jadwiga, 1374-99," CHP, I, 206, he is less sure.
80. Vytautas the Great, 46-51; Crummey, The Formation of Moscovy, 66; Mongols and Russia, 271-272; Prohaska, Dzieje Witoda, 296, 402-404, says that Urban VI wanted a unification of Lithuania with Poland from the beginning, and his successors continued to urge it; even Lewicki, 38-41, concedes that Vytautas' ambition to be a sovereign ruler threatened to annul all his previous commitments to incorporate Lithuania into the Polish kingdom.
81. Dugosz, XII, 523; Alexander Kurschat, "Die Ruine von Troki," AM, 108(1904), 571-583; since the religion of these Tatars contained elements of Judaism, a special commission of Nazi "racial experts" was sent to investigate them in 1941. The commission decided that they were not Jews. Michael Burleigh, Germany Turns Eastward. A Study of Ostforschung in the Third Reich (Cambridge: the University Press, 1988), 219-220.
82. Dugosz, XII, 506.
83. Highly urbanized and producing a great variety of agricultural and industrial products, Prussia was considered rich; and inside Prussia the Order's commercial activity was almost as large as Danzig. For instance, in 1402 the Order had trade worth 130,000 Prussian Marks, Danzig 100,000 Marks, and commercial giant Lübeck 270,000 Marks. Henryk Samsonowicz, "Der Deutsche Orden als Wirtschaftsmacht des Ostseeraumes," Zur Wirtschaftsentwicklung, 103-112.
84. Andrzej Nowakowski, "Some Remarks about Weapons stored in the Arsenals of the Teutonic Order's Castles in Prussia by the End of the 14th and early 15th Centuries," Ordines Militares -- Colloquia Torunensia Historica, I (1991): Das Kriegswesen der Ritterorden im Mittelalter, 75-88, with excellent illustrations; Marian Biskup, "Das Problem der Söldner in den Streitkräften des Deutschordenstaates Preußen vom Ende des 14. Jahrhunderts bis 1525," Ibid., 49-51; for drawings of archeological finds, photos, maps, and a good narrative about the Teutonic Order's conquest of the land, its organization of the government, and the culture, see Dzieje Zakonu. One characteristic is a tendency to see expansion by the Order as somehow wrong, whereas expansion by Polish or Lithuanian rulers is to be expected.
85. For the role of the Teutonic Knights in trade, Klaus Militzer, "Die Wirtschaftstätigkeit ländlicher und städtischer Deutschordenshäuser. Ein Überblick," Zur Wirtschaftsentwicklung. He concludes, 23-24, that the castellans were good administrators but no entrepeneurs. No merchant mentality there.
86. Erich Maschke, "Die Schäfer und Lieger des Deutschen Ordens in Preussen," Domus Hospitalis Theutonicorum, 69-103; at this moment the Order was establishing new settlements further to the east. Bernhart Jähnig, "Verleihung des Stadtrechts an die Ostpreussische Kreisstadt Gerdauen," Ostdeutsche Gedenktage 1998, 335-342.
87. Heinrich Knapp, Das Schloss Marienburg in Preussen. Quellen und Materialien zur Baugeschichte nach 1456 (Lüneburg: Nordostdeustches Kulturwerk, 1990); Marian Arszyski, "Die Deutschordensburg als Wehrbau und ihre Rolle im Wehrsystem des Ordensstaates Preußen," Ordines Militares -- Colloquia Torunensia Historica, VI (1991), 89-123; Samogitian Crusade, 42-46.
88. Klaus Militzer, "Der Wein des Meisters. Die Weinversorgung des Hochmeisters des Deutschen Ordens in Preußen," Zwischen Lübeck und Novgorod. Wirtschaft, Politik und Kultur im Ostseeraum vom frühen Mittelalter bis ins 20. Jahrhundert. Norbert Angermann zum 60. Geburtstag (Lüneburg: Nordostdeutsches Kulturwerk, 1996), 143-155; Udo Arnold, "Weinbau und Weinhandel des Deutschen Ordens im Mittelalter," Zur Wirtschaftsentwicklung, 96-98, with much more detailed information about the Order's vinyards in the Empire.
89. Samogitian Crusade, 39, 44; the argument against literacy is given well by Alfred Wendehorst, "Reading and Writing in the Middle Ages," England and Germany in the High Middle Ages (Oxford: 1996), 78-81.
90. Nobel-prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz, The Knights of the Cross (1900) versus the wildly popular 1862 history Treitschke's Origins of Prussianism (trans. Eden & Cedar Paul. New York: Fertig, 1969); for a balance of the good and the bad, see Christiansen, The Northern Crusades, 201-208.
91. Reinhard Wenskus, "Das Ordensland Preußen als Territorialstaat des 14. Jahrhunderts," Der Deutsche Territorialstaat im 14. Jahrhunderts (ed. Hans Patze. Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 1970) [Vorträge und Forschungen, 13], 347-382 for a discussion of why the Prussian government possessed characteristics of an early territorial state but because of its clerical nature was still best described as based on a personal union in the grandmaster.
92. Jürgen Sarnowsky, "Die Quellen für die angeblichen Münzstätte des Deutschen Ordens auf der Marienburg in der Zeit um 1410," ZfO, 38/3 (1989), 342, 348-349.
93. Thielen, Die Verwaltung des Ordensstaats, 68-83; Geschichte Ost- und Westpreussens, 58-66.
94. Marian Dygo, "Die Architecktur der Deutschordensburgen in Preußen als historischen Quellen," ZfO, 36/1 (1987), 52-60; Ewald Volgger, "Die Feier von Kreuzauffindung und Kreuzerhohung. Ursprung, Verbreitung und Bedeutung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung als Hochfest des Deutschen Ordens," Beiträge zur Geschichte des Deutschen Ordens, II (Marburg: Elwert, 1993), 1-50.
95. The Lites were papal hearings in which the order's enemies testified in great detail to their misdeeds. The Teutonic Knights boycotted the hearings, knowing that they had a better chance in an appeal to the pope if they argued that the entire process against them was biased. They were seldom wrong. They won the propaganda war with the popes but lost it with modern historians. Koczowski, La Pologne dans l'Eglise médiévale, IX, 100, XIII, 503-510, takes a less combative position in identifying the Teutonic Knights with those Christians who believed in taking a "hard-line" against the enemies of the Church.
96. One must not exaggerate the changes that would follow from changing the ruler or ruling dynasty. In the states we are studying characteristics of peasant life were dictated by nature and the existing technology, and peasants generally had little or no voice in choosing their rulers; nobles had their means of limiting the monarchs' ability to raise taxes and make war; and the clergy were backed by powerful international connections. On the other hand, one should not think that it made no difference who ruled.
97. Urban, The Samogitian Crusade, 184, 196; Christiansen, The Northern Crusades, 169-170; Central Europe, 50.
98. LUB, IV, 204-209, 218-227; Itinerarium Witolda, 84; LUB, VI, 312-316; William Urban, The Livonian Crusade (Washington: University Press of America, 1981).
99. Dugosz, XII, 531-532.
100. Posilge, 228, 370.
101. As noted above, footnote 17, there was considerable dispute at the time concerning her birthdate, which must have been in 1374. Wilhelm von Habsburg, whose last minute efforts to frustrate the Polish prelate's plans by consummating the marriage created a scandal; and afterward he claimed that the deed had been done. The Polish prelates denied the act, and in any case, said that it made no difference, since she would have been below the proper age. The prelates played strongly on the girl's piety and her instinctive understanding that a union between the Piast and Habsburg dynasties would not be good for Poland. All this aided the campaign to have her widely regarded as a saint, as for example in "Calendarii Cracoviensis," 663: "auctrix indefessa cultuum divinorum, protectrix ecclesie, ministra iusticie; omnium virtutum pedissequa, humilis et benigna mater orphanorum."
102. Jadwiga of Anjou, 11-15; Kellogg, Jadwiga, 286-298.
103. Lewicki, 23, 41.
104. Dugosz, XII, 543-544, 547-548; Kaiser Sigismund in Ungarn, for the Cilly family, 63; Jagiellonian Poland, 82, emphasizes the king's reluctance to stay in Poland. A misreading of Jagiello's ambitions, I think. Without question, the king loved to hunt in the Lithuanian wildernesses, but he also loved power and the excitement of intrigue. The argument, however, follows historical tradition: Król Wadisaw Jagiello, I, 147-148; II, 291, 347-352; for the Cilly family, Kaiser Sigismund in Ungarn, 63.
105. LUB, VI, 312-314.
106. The Mongols and Russia, 271-282; Nikonian Chronicle, 116-117; Vytautas the Great, 50-52, 57-58; Zenonas Ivinskis in Chrystianizacja Litwy (Kraków: ZNAK, 1987), 84-93; Itinerarium Witolda, 85.
107. Posilge, 230; Dugosz, XII, 526-529; Rhode, Die Ostgrenze Polens, I, 357-359; Russia and the Mongol Yoke, 111-112; Prawdin, The Mongol Empire, 472-473; as Jasienica noted, Jagiellonian Poland, 80, "Not all daring plans do credit to their authors."
108. Chronicle of Novgorod, 173-174; fall of 1401, Itinerarium Witolda, 85.
109. Posilge, 216, 222; Nikonian Chronicle, 118-119; Deletant, "Moldavia between Hungary and Poland,: 205; Presniakov, The Formation of the Great Russian State, 284, says that the defeat was less important for Vytautas' ambitions than the subsequent uniting (even though temporary) of Russian forces against him; Prawdin, The Mongol Empire, 472, in contrast gives only two paragraphs to the battle and its consequences--the main one being that the decay of the Golden Horde continued.
110. Nikonian Chronicle, 132-137; Chronicle of Novgorod, 175; Presniakov, The Formation of the Great Russian State, 284-285; Rhode, Die Ostgrenze Polens, I, 370-372; Lewicki, 40-41.
111. Formation of the Great Russian State, 284-285.
112. Dugosz, XII, 550; Dzieje, 304-305, 405-409; as Christiansen notes in commenting on the Teutonic Order's "illusionist policy" of pretending that the Lithuanians were Saracens, The Northern Crusades, 170: "All [Vytautas'] insistence on the immorality of the Order's occupation of Samogitia could not conceal the fact that it was the Order's support which had compelled [Jagiello] to recognize him as grand-duke of Lithuania in 1392. The real question was, which illusion had the strongest appeal?"
113. Westrussland, 25, 36-39; Rhode, Die Ostgrenze Polens, I, 359-362; Król Wadisaw Jagiello, I, 148-149, 161-163; Dzieje Witoda, 96-99; Lewicki, 41-47, argued that this agreement gave the Lithuanian nobles a right to speak formally on matters of national interest. In effect, Vytautas had given the Lithuanian nobles such prominence and self-confidence that any effort to reimpose their former subordinate status would have resulted in war.
114. Reklaitis, "Die Burgkirchen," 216-219, 222-224.
115. Typical of the Order's complaints against the Rigan archbishop was the letter of the Livonian Master to the procurator in Rome, c. 1392, LUB, III, 644-646: it was difficult enough to protect the new plantation of the faith from pagans on one side and schismatics on another, without having to contend with a troublesome archbishop who has caused the sacrament of communion to become rare or even cease altogether; would it be possible to persuade the Pope to transfer the prelate to another post and appoint a new archbishop, a "pacific man who will think of the good of the fatherland and the protection of the Church." The pope granted the request, and appointed an archbishop, Johann von Wallenrode, who met those qualifications. LUB, IV, 29-30. Meanwhile, the King of Poland offered the Archbishop his fullest support, saying that his experience was that the Teutonic Knights lacked any fear of God, human honor, or truth, but were impelled by an inexhaustible avarice and jealousy, like a wolf among the sheep. LUB, III, 659-661.
116. Posilge, 222, 226.
117. Similarly, some readers might be surprised to learn that the Teutonic Knights gave shelter to runaway serfs in Germany, granting them freedom after a year and a day of good behavior in their cities. LUB, VI, 681-683.
118. The quality and number of priests in Prussia was poor, but even worse in Lithuania. Also, the social condition of the "Christianized' Prussians was lower than the officially converted Lithuanian peasantry. Anyone can draw a lesson from those facts. Certainly the unconverted Samogitians did. Musteikis, The Reformation in Lithuania, 24-25, 30-32.
119. Juozas Jaktas, "Das Baltikum in der Kreuzzugsbewegung des 14. Jhr. Die Nachrichten Philipps de Mézičres über die baltische Geschichte," Commentationes Balticae, 6-7(1959), 21-45. See also, Malcolm Vale, War and Chivalry, Warfare and Aristocratic Culture in England, France and Burgundy at the End of the Middle Ages (Athens, Georgia: the University of Georgia Press, 1981), 1f; Maurice Keen, Chivalry (New Haven and London: Yale, 1984), 172-74, 179, 251-52.
120. John Palmer, England, France & Christendom 1377-99 (London: Routledge & Kegan, 1972), 201-205, 240.
121. Werner Paravicini, Die Preussenreise des europäischen Adels (Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 1984), I, 30-34, lists the various lords who led parties to Prussia in this period.
122. Wigand von Marburg, 660.
123. Hans Koeppen, "Das Ende der englischen Preußenfahrten," Preußenland, 8/4 (1970), 51. Also important were disputes over trade policy, the English insistence on being allowed to carry the banner of St. George instead of giving it to the most prominent noble on crusade, and royal efforts to interfere with the order's internal business.
124. Prussian Society, passim; Hartmut Boockmann, Der Deutsche Orden. Zwölf Kapitel aus seiner Geschichte (Munich: Beck, 1981), 180-96.
125. One must ignore Adam Mickiewicz's great poem, Konrad Wallenrode. The central figure of the poem is to be understood in the context of tsarist censorship which would not allow a plot which had a Lithuanian pretending to be a Russian in order to defend his nation's interests. Considering that the nineteenth-century Lithuanian nobility was torn between its Polish and Russian identities, that was potential dynamite. Much safer to set the story back in the middle ages, with a pseudo-German grandmaster as the central figure. The conflicting claims on Mickiewicz's heritage are set forth well in Between East and West, 114-122.
126. The Samogitian Crusade, 228-230; Geschichte Ost- und Westpreussen, 122, 128-129.
127. One must be careful not to draw too close a parallel here. What is important is to remember that our stereotypes are always both informative and misleading. What was happening in Prussia and Livonia was not unique; in fact, as we shall see, it was occurring in Lithuania as well; and in Poland the lower ranks of the nobility were so worried about the introduction of similar practices that they fought successfully to preserve their class privileges.