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Algirdas
Algirdas
(Belarusian: Альгерд, Ukrainian: Ольгерд, Polish: Olgierd; c. 1296 – May 1377) was a ruler of medieval Lithuania. He ruled the Lithuanians
Lithuanians
and Ruthenians
Ruthenians
from 1345 to 1377. With the help of his brother Kęstutis
Kęstutis
(who defended the western border of the Duchy) he created an empire stretching from the present Baltic states
Baltic states
to the Black Sea
Black Sea
and to within fifty miles of Moscow.

Contents

1 Background 2 Expansion of Lithuania 3 Religion and death 4 Assessment 5 See also 6 References

Background[edit] Algirdas
Algirdas
was one of the seven sons of Grand Prince Gediminas. Before his death in 1341, Gediminas
Gediminas
divided his domain, leaving his youngest son Jaunutis in possession of the capital, Vilnius. With the aid of his brother, Kęstutis, Algirdas
Algirdas
drove out the incompetent Jaunutis and declared himself Grand Prince in 1345. He devoted the next thirty-two years to the development and expansion of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[1] Two factors are thought to have contributed to this result: the political sagacity of Algirdas
Algirdas
and the devotion of Kęstutis. The division of their dominions is illustrated by the fact that Algirdas appears almost exclusively in East Slavic sources, while Western chronicles primarily describe Kęstutis. Lithuania was surrounded by enemies. The Teutonic Order
Teutonic Order
in the northwest and the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
in the southwest sought Lithuanian territory, while Poland to the west and Muscovy to the east were generally hostile competitors. Expansion of Lithuania[edit]

Algirdas
Algirdas
by Alexander Guagnini

Algirdas
Algirdas
held his own, also acquiring influence and territory at the expense of Muscovy and the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
and extending the borders of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
to the Black Sea. His principal efforts were directed toward securing the Slavic lands which were part of the former Kievan Rus'. Although Algirdas
Algirdas
engineered the election of his son Andrew as Prince of Pskov
Pskov
and a powerful minority of Novgorod Republic citizens supported him against Muscovy, his rule in both commercial centres was (at best) precarious.[1] Algirdas
Algirdas
occupied the important principalities of Smolensk
Smolensk
and Bryansk in western Russia. Although his relationship with the grand dukes of Muscovy was generally friendly (demonstrated by his marriages to two Orthodox Russian princesses), he besieged Moscow in 1368 and 1370 during the Lithuanian–Muscovite War (1368–72). An important feat by Algirdas
Algirdas
was his victory over the Tatars in the Battle of Blue Waters at the Southern Bug
Southern Bug
in 1362, which resulted in the breakup of the Kipchaks
Kipchaks
and compelled the khan to establish his headquarters in the Crimea.[1] Religion and death[edit] According to modern historians, "For Gediminas
Gediminas
and Algirdas, retention of paganism provided a useful diplomatic tool and weapon ... that allowed them to use promises of conversion as a means of preserving their power and independence".[2] Hermann von Wartberge and Jan Długosz described Algirdas
Algirdas
as a pagan until his death in 1377. Contemporary Byzantine accounts support the Western sources; Patriarch Neilos described Algirdas
Algirdas
as "fire-worshipping prince"[3] and another patriarch, Philotheos, excommunicated all Ruthenian noblemen who helped the "impious" Algirdas.[4] His pagan beliefs were also mentioned in 14th-century Byzantine historian Nicephorus Gregoras' accounts.[5]

Algirdas
Algirdas
(left) on the Millennium of Russia
Millennium of Russia
monument in Veliky Novgorod

After his death, Algirdas
Algirdas
was burned on a ceremonial pyre with 18 horses and many of his possessions in a forest near Maišiagala,[6] probably in the Kukaveitis forest shrine located at 54°55′42″N 25°01′04″E / 54.92833°N 25.01778°E / 54.92833; 25.01778.[7] His alleged burial site has undergone archaeological research since 2009.[8] Algirdas' descendants include the Trubetzkoy, Czartoryski and Sanguszko families.[citation needed] Although Algirdas
Algirdas
was said to have ordered the death of Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius,[citation needed] who were later glorified as martyrs of the Russian Orthodox Church, the 16th-century Bychowiec Chronicle and 17th-century Hustynska Chronicle maintain that he converted to Orthodox Christianity some time before his marriage to Maria of Vitebsk in 1318. Several Orthodox churches were built in Vilnius
Vilnius
during his reign, but later assertions about his baptism are uncorroborated by contemporary sources. Despite contemporary accounts and modern studies,[9][10] however, some Russian historians (such as Batiushikov) claim that Algirdas
Algirdas
was an Orthodox ruler. The Kiev Monastery of the Caves' commemorative book, underwritten by Algirdas' descendants, recorded his baptismal name as Demetrius during the 1460s. Following Wojciech Wijuk Kojałowicz
Wojciech Wijuk Kojałowicz
and Macarius I, Volodymyr Antonovych writes that Algirdas
Algirdas
took monastic vows several days before his death and was interred at the Cathedral of the Theotokos in Vilnius
Vilnius
under the monastic name Alexius. Assessment[edit]

Litas
Litas
commemorative coin with image of Algirdas

Algirdas
Algirdas
balanced himself between Muscovy and Poland, spoke Lithuanian and Ruthenian (among other languages) and followed the majority of his pagan and Orthodox subjects rather than to alienate them by promoting Roman Catholicism. His son Jogaila
Jogaila
ascended the Polish throne, converted to Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholicism
and founded the dynasty which ruled Lithuania and Poland for nearly 200 years.[1] Algirdas
Algirdas
(Belarusian: Альгерд, Alhierd) is also widely honoured in Belarus
Belarus
as a unifier of all Belarusian lands within one state, a successful military commander and ruler of medieval Belarus[11][12] A monument to him has been erected in Vitsebsk
Vitsebsk
in 2014, as part of the celebration of the city's 1040th anniversary. Algirdas
Algirdas
was Duke of Vitebsk for over 20 years before becoming Grand Duke of Lithuania.[13] See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Algirdas.

Gediminids House of Algirdas – Algirdas' family tree

References[edit]

^ a b c d  Bain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Olgierd". Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 (11th ed.). p. 80.  ^ Muldoon, James. Varieties of Religious Conversion in the Middle Ages. University Press of Florida, 1997. Page 140. ^ F. Miklosich, J. Mūller. Acta Patriarchatus Constantinopolitan. Vienna, 1862, Vol. 2, p.12 ^ F. Miklosich, J. Mūller. Acta Patriarchatus Constantinopolitan. Vienna, 1862, Vol. 1, pp. 523–524 ^ I. Bekker. Nicephori Gregorae Historiae Byzantinae. Bonn, 1829, Vol. 3 pp. 517–520 ^ "He was cremated with the best horses, clothes, resplendent in gold and girdled with a gilded silver belt and was covered with a gown woven of beads and gems", Marija Gimbutas
Marija Gimbutas
has observed Archived 9 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine.. ^ (in Lithuanian)Vykintas Vaitkevičius, Kukaveičio šventvietės mįslės in Šiaurės Atėnai 2 May 2008 ^ Lokalizavo kunigaikščio Algirdo palaikų kremavimo vietą Archived 6 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. retrieved on 22 May 2009 ^ Contributed by Antoni Prochaska, Jan Ochmanski, Gotthold Rhode, Marija Gimbutas, Edvardas Gudavičius etc. ^ Mažeika, Rasa (1987). "Was Grand Prince Algirdas
Algirdas
a Greek Orthodox Christian?". Lituanus. 33 (4). Retrieved 6 September 2007.  ^ Князь Альгерд нарэшце вярнуўся ў Віцебск [Duke Alhierd Finally Returns to Viciebsk] ^ У Менску адкрылася выстава “Князь Альгерд у выяўленчым мастацтве” [Exhibition "Duke Alhierd in Visual Arts" Opened in Minsk] ^ У Віцебску ўсталявалі помнік князю Альгерду. Фотарэпартаж [Monument to Duke Alhierd installed in Viciebsk. Photos]

Algirdas Gediminid dynasty Born: c. 1296 Died: May 1377

Preceded by Jaunutis Grand Prince of Lithuania along with Kęstutis 1345–1377 Succeeded by Jogaila

Preceded by Yaroslav Prince of Vitebsk 1345–1377 Succeeded by Uliana

v t e

Monarchs of Lithuania

Early Grand Dukes

Mindaugas
Mindaugas
(dynasty) Treniota Vaišvilkas Shvarn Traidenis Daumantas

Gediminids

Butigeidis Butvydas Vytenis Gediminas
Gediminas
(family) Jaunutis Algirdas
Algirdas
(family) Jogaila
Jogaila
(family) Kęstutis
Kęstutis
(family) Skirgaila Vytautas Švitrigaila Sigismund Kęstutaitis Casimir Jagellon Alexander Sigismund I the Old Sigismund II Augustus

Elected

Henry III of Valois Anna the Jagiellonian Stephen Báthory Sigismund III Vasa Ladislaus IV Vasa John II Casimir Vasa Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki John III Sobieski Augustus II the Strong Stanisław Leszczyński August III the Saxon Stanisław August Poniatowski

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 69806987 LCCN: n90682215 GND: 12230201X SUDO

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