Witowt, however, convinced himself that the German knights were far more dangerous than his Lithuanian rival; he accepted pacific overtures from Jagiello and became his ally.
in 1386, Witowt was at first content with the principality of Grodno; but jealousy of Skirgiello, one of Jagiello's brothers, to whom Jagiello committed the government of Lithuania, induced Witowt to ally himself once more with the Teutonic Order (treaty of Konigsberg, 24th of May 1390).
He strengthened his position by giving his daughter Sophia in marriage to Vasily, grand-duke of Muscovy; but he never felt secure beneath the wing of the Teutonic Order, and when Jagiello removed Skirgiello from the government of Lithuania and offered it to Witowt, the compact of Ostrow (5th of August 1392) settled all differences between them.
Nevertheless, subsequent attempts on the part of Poland to subordinate Lithuania drove Witowt for the third time into the arms of the Order, and by the treaty of Salin in 1398, Witowt, who now styled himself Supremus Dux Lithuaniae, even went so far as to cede his ancestral province of Samogitia to the knights, and to form an alliance with them for the conquest and partition of Pskov and Great Novgorod.
Witowt was to reign over Lithuania as an independent grand-duke, but the two states were to be indissolubly united by a common policy.
The result was a whole series of wars with the Teutonic Order, which now acknowledged Swidrygiello, another brother of Jagiello, as grand-duke of Lithuania; and though Swidrygiello was defeated and driven out by Witowt, the Order retained possession of Samogitia, and their barbarous methods of "converting" the wretched inhabitants finally induced Witowt to rescue his fellow-countrymen at any cost from the tender mercies of the knights.
After this battle Poland-Lithuania began to be regarded in the west as a great power, and Witowt stood in high favour with the Roman curia.
In 1429, instigated by the emperor Sigismund, whom he magnificently entertained at his court at Lutsk, Witowt revived his claim to a kingly crown, and Jagiello reluctantly consented to his cousin's coronation; but before it could be accomplished Witowt died at Troki, on the 27th of October 1430.
See Jozef Ignacz Kraszewski, Lithuania under Witowt (Pol.) (Wilna, 1850); Augustin Theiner, Vetera Monumenta Poloniae (Rome, 1860-1864); Karol Szajnocha, Jadwiga and Jagiello (Pol.) (Lemberg, 1850-1856); Teodor Narbutt, History of the Lithuanian Nation (Pol.) (Wilna, 1835-1836); Codex epistolaris Witoldi Magni (ed.
Three weeks later Jagiello was compelled to cede Samogitia, as far as the Dubissa, to the Knights, and, in the following year they set up against him Kiejstut's son Witowt.
Skilfully taking advantage of the jealousies of Poland and Lithuania, as they were accentuated by the personal antagonism of Jagiello and Witowt (q.v.), with the latter of whom the Knights more than once contracted profitable alliances, they even contrived (Treaty of Salin, 1378) to extend their territory by getting possession of the province of Samogitia, the original seat of the Lithuanians, where paganism still persisted, and where their inhuman cruelties finally excited the horror and indignation of Christian Europe.
By this time, however, the prudent Jagiello had become convinced that Lithuania was too strong to be ruled by or from Poland, and yet not strong enough to stand alone, and by the compact of Vilna (January 18, 1401,1401, confirmed by the compact of Radowo, March 10) he surrendered the whole grand duchy to Witowt, on the understanding that the two states should have a common policy, and that neither of them should elect a new prince without the consent of the other.
The wisdom of this arrangement was made manifest in 1410, when Jagiello and Witowt combined their forces for the purpose of delivering Samogitia from the intolerable tyranny of the Knights.
But the excessive caution of Jagiello gave the Knights time to recover from the blow; the Polish levies proved unruly and incompetent; Witowt was suddenly recalled to Lithuania by a Tatar invasion, and thus it came about that, when peace was concluded at Thorn, on the 1st of February 1411, Samogitia (which was to revert to the Order on the death of Jagiello and Witowt), Dobrzyn, and a war indemnity of 10o,000 marks payable in four instalments, were the best terms Poland could obtain from the Knights, whose territory practically remained intact.
been as great a warrior as Witowt he might, perhaps, have subdued the Knights altogether.
Many Russian historians even maintain that, but for the fact that Witowt had simultaneously to cope with the Teutonic Order and the Tatars, that energetic prince would certainly have extinguished struggling Muscovy altogether.
But since the death of Witowt (1430) the military efficiency of Lithuania had sensibly declined; single-handed she was no longer a match for her ancient rival.
WITOWT, or Witold (1350-1430), grand-duke of Lithuania, son of Kiejstut, prince of Samogitia, first appears prominently in 1382, when the Teutonic Order set him up as a candidate for the throne of Lithuania in opposition to his cousin Jagiello (see Wladislaus), who had treacherously murdered Witowt's father and seized his estates.
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