Making a Great Ruler: Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania

By Giedrė Mickūnaitė | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
VYTAUTAS CREATING
HIS OWN IMAGE

This chapter aims to reveal the image of Vytautas as expressed by the Duke himself and propagated by his entourage. The image is perceived as closely connected, but not limited, to Vytautas’ political aspirations and activities. The most vivid manifestations of this image building include political statements, ceremonials, and diverse means of representation, as well as other peoples’ perceptions of the Grand Duke. Hence, the chapter is arranged in both thematic and chronological order. While not attempting to outline the history of Vytautas’ times, brief references to the major events are inevitable.


THE EARLY YEARS

The Troubled 1380s: A “Serpent in the Bosom” or
a “Duke with Neither Men nor Lands”

The Russian annals tell of the outcomes of the subsequent revolts in 1381 and 1382 as follows: they rose up against themselves, killing Grand Duke Kęstutis and his boyars, and Jogaila took over the Dukedom. Vytautas fled to the Germans and from there wreaked lots of evil upon the Lithuanian lands.1 Let us follow Vytautas to Prussia and have a look at his reputation there:

“Serpentem in sinum ponere,”2 this is how Jogaila refers to Vytautas’ stay in Lithuania before his flight to the Teutonic Knights. Lithuanian propaganda of the period clearly labelled Vytautas a traitor. Thus, looking for a refuge seemed a logical step. Moreover, such a move was not a new invention. Rather, Vytautas followed a path forged by his brother Butautas, who fled to the Order in 1365. The latter’s son, Vaidotas, left for Prussia in 1381.3 In contrast to the brother and nephew, who had abandoned Lithuania never to return,4 Vytautas came to the Knights only for a while.

The four years (i.e., 1382–1384 and 1390–1392) that the Lithuanian Duke spent with the Teutonic Order were not only a time of refuge, but also one of

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Making a Great Ruler: Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • List of Abbreviations xix
  • A Note on Personal and Geographical Names xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I - Vytautas Creating His Own Image 19
  • Chapter II - The Fifteenth Century- Shaping of the Image 117
  • Chapter III - The Early-Modern Image of Vytautas 145
  • Chapter IV - Image and Image 251
  • Conclusions 271
  • Selected Bibliography 275
  • Index of Personal Names 329
  • Index of Geographical Names and Peoples 333
  • Subject Index 336
  • Figures 339
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