Wilno [now Vilnius, Lithuania]
In Latin - Vilna, in Lithuanian - Wilniuja, in White Russian – Wilnia. A mediaeval stronghold, once the capital the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, today the county and guberniya town and headquarters of higher administration offices and the army. It lies 50° 41’ latitude north, 42° 57’ longitude east and 118.2 m above sea level. It stands at the point the river Wilejka enters the river Wilia, in a valley surrounded by hills from whence a beautiful panorama extends. Distances by rail in verst to the following cities: St. Petersburg – 658, Moscow – 875, Warsaw – 387, Kiev – 862, Minsk – 173, Wierzbolowo – 177, Kowno – 97, Grodno – 147 and Ryga – 365.
Location and climate In geognostic terms, the town lies on a plain, tilting from the Pinsk Lowlands towards the Baltic Sea. To the east and west, the elevated upper layers of land, on which the town stands, are of sand. The alluvial hills surrounding the Wilia river bed are only of sand but those around the Wilenka occasionally contain clay. There are two springs in the town, one by the Zamkowa hill containing traces of hydrogen and sulphur, the other, more iron flavoured, on the Rowne Pole. Their presence points to the possibility of the existence of more. In his geognostic description of Wilno, (Opyt medico-topograficzeskiego opisania goroda Wilny pages 9 – 27), Salkind describes this subject in great detail. Here we must add that the land in the lower part of the town, the complete area in the vicinity of the castle, from the banks of the Wilenka and Wilia to the hills on which the buildings of the Catholic seminary, the post Dominican and post university stand, are boggy and full of springs and meadows. Water in Wilno is plentiful and never far beneath the surface.
The soil in the town and environs is primarily sand and these layers often attain a depth of several ells (Nordischer Sand); then follows a layer of ordinary red clay “oven clay” which is unsuitable for brick making due to the high content of lime stones (top red alluvial clay, top red marl); beneath a layer of alloy-yellow coloured clay, which is a type of marl and containing veins of excellent pottery clay (marga argilacea, argilla plastica) and finally the deepest lying, thin layer of gravel or large–grained sandy limestone. In the hills surrounding the town there are innumerable primary rock fragments, the most popular being granite, gneiss and grinstein and these are used to pave the Wilno streets. Homogeneous minerals have been found beneath the town and include cinnamic stone, hornstone, in the shape of rounded stones, (Hornstein; according to Gedrojec this is not hornstone as maintained by Jakowicki but silex or Feuerstein) and fossilised wood. The bones of a mammoth, an elephant’s molar tooth and various other, less significant, fossils have been found on the banks of the Wilia and on the flat country beyond. A description of the latter can be found in an article by Jakowicki in the Wilno Daily 1830, III, 80).
Wilno also has its own specific flora, details of which can be found in Balinski’s Statistical Description of Wilno, 9, 23. Balinski collected what he found by Gilibert and Jundzillow; the latter did much for the country’s flora but omitted many species known only in Wilno. Presently, Ms. Tekla Symonowicz, known for her work in the field of botany and for her rich herbarium, is preparing to take to print a detailed account of Wilno’s flora.
The climate, although changeable, is temperate and healthy. The real spring warmth begins here with the onset of April and sometimes even in March; however when the polar ice begins to melt, the northern winds bring cool weather and frosts with them and snow has been known to fall as late as May. The hottest days are experienced in July but October can be almost just as warm. Summer temperatures can reach +26.2° but they normally range from +22° to +24°. The coldest temperature registered was -29.5°. The average annual temperature is +6.80° (Wild’s temperatures in the Russian Empire); average winter temp. -4.56°, spring +6.80°, summer +17.94° and autumn +7.20°. The greatest annual temperature fluctuation occurs in January and July, a slight one in February and August and the smallest in April and November. The highest temperature +33° was recorded in July and the lowest -38.8° in January. The highest atmospheric pressure of 752.6mm was noted in January and 751.8 in February; the lowest 748.6 in July and 748.9 in December. The south wind prevails, followed by the west wind and the most uncommon are the north and north-east ones. The declination of the magnetic needle observed by implementing a simple theodolite was 13. The longest day in Wilno lasts 17 hours.
Expanse, parts of the town and policing areas Wilno covers an expanse of 8 square wiorst and its boundary is 27 wiorst and 75 saz. The straight line from Ostrabrama Street to Antokol suburbs measures 7 wiorst; from Pohulanska to Polocka suburbs, 2w. 350 saz. Wilno has spread throughout the valley surrounded by hills of varying sizes.
The city is, in fact, divided into the actual city and suburbs encompassing it from all sides. Travelling from north to west we first encounter Antokol, which resembles a town rather than a suburb considering its population. It nears the city with each year as the number of houses increases and will soon be swallowed by it. Those “ manors in Antokol,” so poetically described by Chodzko, no longer exist. They have been replaced by multi storey buildings and factories. A thick pine forest, belonging to the Greek Orthodox nuns, separates Antokol from Popowszczyzna, which lies to the north east and used to be a suburb but today is integrated into the city. This part of the city is named Zarzecze. Poplawy suburbs, now adjoining Zarzecze, lie more to the east but are separated from it by the river Wilejka. Towards the south and south west there are the suburbs of Nowy Swiat, Szkaplerna and Kominy which make up a unit and are quickly approaching the city. Nowy Gorod and Hulanki are to the south and south west. The former is a town in itself, even a fair-sized one, taking the number of houses into account. 15 to 20 years ago, Pohulanka was the summer escape of the privileged and a popular excursion goal. Today, it is a beautiful part of the city. Lukiszki lie to the west and Snipiszki to the north west. Lukiszki is in a valley whereas Snipiszki lies higher. Antokol and Popowszczyzna are separated from the city by the river Wilejka and Snipiszki by the Wilia. Other suburbs and the city itself are on the left bank of the Wilia. On the edge of the suburbs we find the summer houses or “dachas.” They are usually situated in such picturesque places as Werki, Zwierzyniec, Zakret, Rybiszki, Markucie, Betleem, Belmont, Wilanowo, Rossa etc. The city has expanded in a most uneven and hilly area so that not only is one street higher or lower than the next but even the street itself can in one part be steeply elevated in relation to another. The town consists of 8 suburbs, 13 squares, 65 streets and 39 alleys. From a policing angle it is divided up into 7 circles of which VII is Antokol, VI includes Zarzecze and Popowszczyzna, V Rossa and Poplawy, IV Snipiszki and I Szkaplerna. Nowy Swiat and part of Nowy Grod do not belong to the county.
Most of Wilno’s streets are twisting and winding. There are barely 3 straight streets commonly known as “Prospect.” They are relatively new and bare the names St. Jerski, Aleksandrowski and Aleksandrowski Boulevard.
Population Regarding population, Wilno ranks 111 in Europe and 12 in Russia (Bracchelli: Statistik der Europaeschen Staaten). Due to a lack of documentation, it is difficult to say how the population grew. Some historians maintain that Wilno had around 30.000 inhabitants in the XIV century, gradually reaching the figure of 120.000 in its heyday, during the reign of Zygmunt August. The city lost its splendour during following reigns and Jan Kazimierz’s reign (1655) saw 25.000 citizens die and even more scatter. In 1766, Karpinski mentions a population of 60.000 (Geographical Lexicon). In 1830, Chodzko, records 50.000 of which 30.000 were Jews. In 1835, Balinski mentions 35.922 (Statistics of the city of Wilno). That figure is incorrect because the VIII census in 1834 census mentions 52.269 citizens and according to official documents 1836 there were 30.253 males, 25.882 females, together 56.135. According to official documents in 1846 there were 27.871 males, 26.311 females, together 54.182 inhabitants. In 1850, the IX census gives 49.006, the X census in 1858 mentions 58.175 and finally the 1875 census notes 42.178 males, 40.490 females, together 82.668. From that one-day count in 1875 there has not been another registration and so we have to make-do with those “memorable books” published annually by the guberniya statistics office. The information included is fairly accurate as the figures are obtained as follows: births/deaths of the current year are added/subtracted to/from the figures of the past year. The office receives these figures from the police and consistories. According to these books the population in 1886 was 107.286 and in 1890 there were 53.039 males, 56.769 females, together 109.808 of which 13.787 Orthodox, 746 Rozkolnik, 33.628 Catholic, 1.820 Lutheran, 142 Calvinist, 63.698 Jew, 127 Karaite and 360 Mohammedan.
During the period 1875 and 1888, the number of births registered was 36.385. Of these 24.776 were Christian and 11.500 Jew and the ratio was 100 girls to 133.3 boys. 27.6 children were born to every 2.000 adults. During the same time frame there were 39.046 deaths of which 21.637 were male and 17.409 female. As far as the birth rate is concerned we note it is small and we shall examine it closely by religion. The former has a birth rate ratio of 4:1 and, as to the latter, it is impossible to give even a near accurate account as the figures provided for both deaths and births are compiled very haphazardly. During the 14 year period the Jewish population increased by 13.079 heads. When compiling the figures we attain a decrease of 401:6 and for the 14 year period it shows a decrease of 5.622. This does not coincide with the known fact that mortality among the Jewish population is negligible.
According to the Duma statistics, Wilno has 1.509 brick-built houses, 1.169 wooden, together 2.678. The ones in the city are all brick-built but for a few, 25-30 wooden ones. On the outskirts and in the poorer parts of the city the houses are mainly wooden e.g. Nowy Gorod, Popowszczyzna, Szkaplerna etc. The houses in town are mainly 2-storeyed (ground floor, first floor) and 3-storeyed and more are unusual. Stair- less houses can be found in the suburbs.
Presently we do not have any information on the number of houses in Wilno. According to a one-day census in 1875, there were 1.748 houses and 3.817 inhabited buildings with 12.787 apartments housing 82.668 people. This means 6.6 people per home. By comparing this figure with other cities e.g. Petersburg 7.5, Berlin 4.6, Peszt 5.4, Kiev 5.7 we can see the living conditions in Wilno are extremely cramped. Not only do the citizens live in cramped conditions but the buildings, too, are over housed having, on an average, 7 apartments. The latter situation is most marked in the city centre but cramped human living conditions are experienced both in the city centre and on the outskirts. The homes are divided up as follows: 1-room 46.9, 2-room 25.3, 3-room 11.2, 4-room 6.5, 5-room 3.7, 6-10-room 5.7, more than 10-room 1.0. For every 100 homes, 4.1% are in the basement, 66.3 on the 1st floor, 22% on the 2nd floor 6.2% on the 3rd floor, 0.2% on the 4th floor and 1.2% on various floors.
Canals There are 8 canals, with outlets into the Wilia in Wilno and this includes the small river Koczerga, which crosses many streets in the western part of the city. They date back to the XVIII century when the Jesuits built a canal from the academy through the Dworcowy square and Skopowka to the Wilia. The canals are solely found in the western part of the city and part of the city centre, which adjoins it. There are no canals in the eastern part of the city at all. Due to the high elevation of the city in the east, drainage is natural and during heavy rainstorms proves its practicability.
Squares and Public Gardens There are 7 squares and public gardens. Two of these are public gardens: botanical and post Bernadine grove, squares namely Cieletnik, Theatre, St. Jerski, St. Katherine and Dworcowy.
Public Squares There are 6 public squares. They are, in fact, market places and some have a specific role to play e.g. on one timber is sold and is thus called the Wooden Market. Another sells hay, thus the Hay Market and yet another sells horses and so the Horse Market. On certain days the local farmers arrive here with their wagons full of food products and pay the city a fee for their location. The city, however, does not take good care of these areas and so the sanitary conditions are lamentable.
Water Supply The city has a good water supply. The main sources are the Wilia and Wilejka although river water is not the best. The city also has 1.043 wells and 4 springs: Wengry, Misyonarski, Ostrabrama and Lewek. Water from the first three is channeled by pipeline throughout the city. The Wengry well provides 7.800 buckets of water daily, Misyonarski 20.000, the Ostrabrama 10.000 but the amounts from the Lewek well are unknown.
City administration In the following part we will show the historical development of the city administration and will restrict the statistical part to a minimum. The first citizens of Wilno were governed by the same rules and regulations as were generally in force in Lithuania and these usually came from the ruling personage, priests’ decrees and ancient practices. Before the onset of Christianity many foreigners, mainly from Riga and Germany, settled here at the summons of Giedymin. They brought with them their own laws and customs, which they then put into practice. This changed in 1387 when Jagiello bestowed the Magdeburg rights on the city and the laws of the local citizens and the newcomers were replaced by new ones. These laws prevailed up until 1840.
After Lithuania was annexed to Russia the city administration was adapted to the 1785 city statute of Catherine II. The city council was set up on 19 August 1808. Presently, the city has an independent administration board, which was set up on 28 July 1876 and includes 72 councilors (Duma) who select from among themselves a city administration (Uprawa), which is made up of the president (Golowa), 4 members (Lawnik), a secretary, builder and surveyor. In 1893, the administration board and councilor selection system were changed by the highest authorities.
Taxes We cannot provide taxation figures and information for earlier times as there is no documentation. From time to time in Wilno’s history we come upon snippets of such information but never enough to build a complete picture. In 1529, the Christians alone paid 1.500 three-score grosz (penny), which in today’s money means 5.400 rubles. In certain situations e.g. fire, pest, famine the city was exempted from paying taxes but then, in times of war, the financial burden was all the greater. It was obliged to provide soldiers (numbers in relation to population of the whole Duchy) and contribute financially to the upkeep of the army. Moreover, it had to provide board and lodging for any army stationed in its precincts and support the city garrison needed for the protection of itself. Normally, the army camped on the outskirts of the city and only entered it at times of danger. It was the city’s responsibility to provide, not only, food and accommodation for the royal army and their horses but even arms, bullets and money. Up until 1451, the city was also responsible for the provision of horses and carriages for members of the Royal court, voivodes and other dignitaries. More stressful was the provision of accommodation. Housing had to be found for royal courtiers, ministers to the Seym, ambassadors and other foreign officials, court staff, various commissions, royal dispatchers etc. Over the years, these duties took on an ever changing aspect or completely changed until they became what they are today.
Below the income and expenditure for the three years 1877 (the first year of independent rule), 1887 and 1890. Before we provide you with these figures let us mention the various taxes, unknown elsewhere but levied on Wilno alone.
a) gate tax - established by King Aleksander in 1505. Tax on food products, timber and hay brought into the city. This tax was used, primarily, for the upkeep of the city gate guards. Each wagon paid a grosz.
b) road tax – established by Zygmunt III in 1630. Carts paid 1 grosz (equivalent of 3 today) and this was used to build and maintain the roads. In 1791, both the above taxes were increased. This meant 3-5 grosz was charged for a horse, 5 grosz for a head of cattle and 3 grosz for a sheep or other. From 1805 till 1818 the prices dropped slightly and then increased to 5 kopec for a horse. Moreover, a tax was levied on those which had previously been exempt.
In 1821, a new tariff was created and 15 kopecs were charged per horse. Finally in 1846, several articles which had earlier been exempt were levied.
c) fish tax – established by Zygmunt I in 1522. 4 grosz per wagon per annum used to be charged and was used for the upkeep of the market place. In 1824 it was incorporated into the gate and road tax.
d) manure/ carbonization tax - established by Zygmunt I along with the above mentioned.
e) lokiec (elbow) tax - established by Zygmunt August in 1536. The last two were paid by vendors selling food products and other small articles on markets, streets and courtyards.
f) alcohol tax – set up by the Constitution in the years 1766, 1775 and 1789. This tax was levied on imported and local alcoholic beverages the proceeds of which went to the treasury. This state of affairs remained until 1811. Decrees passed in 1810 and 1811 changed this and the tax became twofold, tax on imported alcohol and excise duty on the locally produced. The entire proceeds from the first and 1% of the second were given to the city and the remaining 99% were turned over to the treasury.
g) lopatka (shoulder-blade) tax - established in the suburb Antokol in 1798. Butchers pay 30 kopecs for every heed of cattle and 5 kopecs per sheep and other smaller animal.
h) weight and measure tax – weighing and measuring of wares and products on the city’s public scales
i) accommodation tax - 3% of the annual rental income
The city’s income is not exact. Some income is an approximation and some depends on the competition during auctions. The city’s flexible budget is prepared annually.
Income from resources belonging to the city:
1) properties and inns rented out on fixed time basis – in 1877/ 5.435rs. 53 kop., in 1887/ 9.310rs. 72 kop., in 1890 /9.301rs. 72 kop.
2) tenement properties – in 1877/2.742rs. 16 kop., in 1887/ 4.313rs. 39kop., in 1890/4.437rs. 25kop.
3) city property and areas on streets and squares designated for trading – in 1877/ 35.991rs. 26kop., in 1887/ 63.986rs., in 1890/ 67.028rs. 43kop.
4) water from the city supply – in 1877/ 216rs., in 1887/1564rs, in 1890/1564rs
5) permission for bathing in the Wilia – in 1877/134rs. 24kop., in 1887/125rs., in 1890/125rs.
6) permission to collect ice from the Wilia – in 1877/76rs. 10kop., in 1887/153rs. 25kop., in 1890/154rs. 25kop.,
7) permission to collect ice from the Wilejka and in Belmont – in 1887/132rs. 50kop., in 1890/51rs.
8) permission to remove manure from the stables of the fire brigade – in 1887/150rs., in 1890/150rs.
9) as above from the bread market (grain fair) – in 1887/43rs., in 1890/ 43rs.
10) rental of 26 roofed locations selling soda water – no available figures
11) rental of roofed stalls during the St. Jerzy fair – in 1887/ 925rs. 97kop., in 1890/990rs.
12) rental of locations for merry-go-rounds etc. – in 1887/ 55rs., in 1890/902rs.
13) various income from the post Bernadine gardens – in 1887/512rs., in 1890/1500rs.
14) for locations adjacent to renovation/building work – in 1890/700rs.
15) various other income – in 1887/110rs. 75kop., in 1890/155rs.
Summarised: in 1887/49.051rs 58kop., in 1887/81.529rs 88kop., in 1890/88.302rs. 15kop.
Taxes beneficial to the city
16) from property owners in 1877/18.903rs 21kop., in 1887/40.000rs. in 1890/50.000rs.
17) from merchants in 1877, 25% and in the following years 15% of the taxes on issuance of trading permits and 10%from other certificates and trading permits in 1877/8.749rs. 64kop., in 1887/ 15.501rs. 40kop. in 1890/14.000rs.
18) from taxes levied on hackney-cabs, carriages and all other types of transportation with issuance of a number – in 1877/1.168rs., in 1887/3.376rs., in 1890/3.430rs.
19) 20% of the price for the issuance of permission to sell alcohol – in 1877/11.664rs. 21kop., in 1887/15.910rs. 96kop., in 1890/15.900rs.
20) from owners of inns, restaurants, hotels, cook-shops – in 1877/11.632rs 50kop., in 1887/28.561rs.50kop., in 1890/40.000rs.
21) percentage of amounts paid for official papers – in 1877/19.648rs. 3kop., in 1887/14.918rs. 12kop., in 1890/1.2434rs..
22) for space used by horses and carts on market places – in 1877/18.984rs. 60kop., in 1887/14.000rs. in 1890/14.000rs.
23) for stamping weights and measures – in 1887/292rs. 12kop., in 1890/239rs.
24) Unanticipated income – in 1877/ 4.489rs. 76kop., in 1887/314rs. 75kop., in 1890/612rs.
25) returns from the treasury – for the rental of accommodation, to army and prisoners, inclusive of heating and lighting – in 1877/12. 077rs. 82kop., in 1887/50. 010rs. 70kop., in 1890/ 58. 529rs. 50kop.
Summarised income: in 1877/162.830rs. 18kop., in 1887/276.159rs. 38kop., in 1890/312.695rs. 60kop.
Court and administration authorities change with the times. It is a known historical fact that Wilno was the capital of the great Duchy of Lithuania from 1323 to 1569; from the Lublin Union to 1794, the main town in the Duchy; on 12 December 1794 became the main town in the Lithuanian guberniya.; from 1802, the guberniya town of the Wilno guberniya. During Lithuanian and Polish rule from 1413, the high-ranking administration posts of the voivode, castellan and other dignitaries of Wilno voivodship had their headquarters here. The Lithuanian tribunal set up by Stefan Batory held court here each year, always on the Monday after Low Sunday and lasted 22 weeks. From 1432, on receiving the Magdeburg rights, the city was governed independently by the municipal council, which was run by wojts and councillors.
Presently, Wilno has 168 government institutions including 72 administrative, 9 legal, 24 religious, 48 army, 18 educational and 5 banking ones. The introduction, on 4 April 1872, of the courts of peace, jurors’ court, district court and chambers of law is one of the most significant reforms to have taken place.
Industry and trade Apart from the 3 paper mills in the vicinity of the town, the most important factories in Wilno produce beer (4), toffee (1), candles (1), soap and tallow candles (1), leather-dressing (9), morocco leather (2), hats (10), select tiles (3), bricks and lime (5), roof tiles (2), yeast for spirits and beer (2), tobacco and cigars (4), buttons (1), preserved paper (1), pencils (1), envelopes (3), brushes (2), footwear (1), sawmills (2), steam mill and sawmill (1), stone and marble tombstones(3), underwear (1), corks (1), cigarette tubes (1), water mill (1), foundry (1), gas (1), mineral water (1) - in all, 68 factories.
In 1890 there were 7327 tradesmen (3373 masters, 2167 journeymen, 1787 apprentices), 26 merchants 1st. class, 368 merchants 2nd. class, 12 merchant families with rights to 1st. class trading, 147 with 2nd. class rights, 1004 shop assistants, 2544 smaller traders – in all, 11438. Number of warehouses, shops and stalls – 1163. At present, Wilno has the following credit institutes and banks: State - Wilno branch of the State Bank, Wilno-Kowno branch of the National-Landowner State Bank, the Wilno branch of the Landed Aristocracy State Bank; private – the Wilno counting house of the Russian Sciety of Mutual Credit, the private Wilno Commercial Bank, the Wilno Landowner Bank and 5 banking-houses.
Wilno has 9 slaughterhouses. The centrally situated one is public and was planned by the architect Jasinski. The remaining 8 are private.
Orthodox churches: St. Nicholas Church, Church of the Immaculate Mother of God, Holy Trinity Church, Holy Ghost Church with monastery, Maria Magdalena Church with convent, St. Nicholas Church, Church of the Annunciation, (formerly Church of the Holy Trinity), St. Andrew Church, St. Prakseda Church (Piatnicka), St. Michael Church, St. Aleksander Newski Church, church belonging to education facilities, Church of the Care of the Blessed Virgin, church in the ladies’ school, prison church, the Martyrs Anthony, John and Eustace Church, the Archier Church, Orthodox cemetery church, chapel on St. Jerski Square in remembrance of the victories between 1863 – 1864 adding up to 18 orthodox churches and 1 chapel.
Catholic parishes: 1. St. John’s takes in the city centre, 2. Holy Ghost, 3. Ostrabrama covers the southern part of the city, 4. All Saints, 5. St. Filip and Jakub’s or Lukiska, 6. St. Rafal’s beyond the green Bridge covers the complete Snipiszek and much of the area outside the city, 7. St. Peter and Paul’s covers Antokol and surrounding area, 8. post Bernardine’s covers the area beyond Wilenka.
Catholic churches: Cathedral Church, St. John’s, Holy Ghost Church, St. Anne’s, St. Francis and Bernardine, St. Michael’s (presently closed), St. Peter’s, St. George’s, Holy Cross, post missionary church, St. Stefan, All Saints, St. Teresa’s, St. Jacob’s, St. Bartholomew’s, St. Rafael’s, St. Nicholas,
Chapels: Ostrabrama, in the Works of Mercy building, in the Rossa cemetery, in the post Bernardine cemetery and in the prison – a total of 18 churches and 5 chapels.
The old-believers have a separate place of worship, the Lutherans a church as do the Calvinists (reformed Protestant). The mosque dates back to the rule of Witold, the synagogue to 1572, plus 4 additional places of worship.
There are 9 cemeteries: the new Orthodox one, the Rossa, the post Bernardine, St. Peter’s, St. Stefan’s, St. Rafael’s, St. Jacob’s, the Protestant and Jewish ones.
Charitable organisations: 1. Works of mercy founded in 1807, 2. Kindly Kopec, 3. use of Charity, 4. Children’s Shelter, 5. Home for the Needy with cheap board and accommodation, 6. Orthodox Brothers of the Holy Ghost with home and shelter, 7. Catholic Shelter for Foreigners, 8. Child Jesus, 9. Society for the Promotion of Pupils in Need, 10. Society for the Blind.
Hospitals: St. Jacob’s, 2. Sawicz. 3. for the mentally retarded, 4. Child Jesus Shelter (orphans), 5. Jewish, 6. Army, 7. Countess Przezdziecka’s Opthalmic, 8. 2 private clinics, 9. Shelter for the Poor and Orphaned by the Lutheran Church and in the Protestant cemetery, 10. St. Anne’s Shelter run by the German- Catholic St. Anne Society by the Bernardine cemetery, 11. Shelter for the old and disabled in St. Jacob’s hospital, 12. Shelter for Jews.
Two further institutions existed up until 1864, the first of which was established by Zofia Dabrowska, namely a shelter for elderly women and disabled persons of the Catholic faith. The second, the Ostrabrama School for Deprived Girls, was founded by Mrs. Nazima, the governor general’s wife.
Educational facilities and academic societies: In 1843, the medical academy was moved to Kiev and the College for Priesthood to Petersburg and since then Wilno does not have any higher education facilities. The middle and primary education takes place in the following: 1. Lithuanian Orthodox training college – 175 students, 2. Roman Catholic Priesthood College – 66 students in 1890, 3. Orthodox Priesthood College – 186 students, 4. School for Nuns – 111 students, 5. Home in the Convent – 40 students, 6. Military Cadet School – 274 students, 7. Military Surgeon School – 110 students, 8. First Classic High School – 616 students, 9. Second Classic High School – 404 students, 10. Ladies High School – 413 students, 11. Middle School – 523 students, 12. Maria Ladies High School – 605 students, 13. Teacher Institute – 34 students, 14. local school in the institute – 70 students, 15. Art College – 83 males and 24 females, 16. Rail Technical College – 64 students, 17. Post-Telegraph College – 57 students, 18. Gubernian School for Midwives – 19 students.
106 boys and 79 girls lived in homes.
There were 5 parish schools for boys with 426 pupils, 4 for girls with 290 pupils and 3 coeducational with 129 boys and 89 girls. The Ladies Sunday School had 176 pupils. The Jewish facility had 69 pupils and an adjoining primary school for 72 pupils. There were 3 elementary Jewish schools with 407 pupils. 12 schools teach Ruthenian to 699 Jewish boys and 8 to 468 girls. Private Jewish schools: 2 eshilot - 240 pupils, Saturday school for tradesmen - 390 students, 3 girls boarding schools - 363 pupils, 1 boys boarding school - 10 boys, Talmud Tora and branches - 216 students, 57 cheders – 526 pupils. In Wilno there were 124 educational facilities providing education to 6021 males and 2677 females.
The public library, founded in 1865 is located in the former university and adjacent to it is the Museum of Antiquities. The library houses 87497 works and 122557 volumes of which 19497 works and 32060 volumes are in Ruthenian. 68000 works and 90497 volumes are in other languages but mainly in Polish and Latin. There are 9385 duplicates and 14583 volumes of which 1123 duplicates and 1520 volumes are in Ruthenian. 8262 duplicates and 13063 volumes are in other languages, mainly Polish and Latin. There are 8042 uncompleted works and 12050 uncompleted volumes. 329 Orthodox-Slavic manuscripts exist as well as 75 deeds and charters on parchment and 1542 fascicles and separate manuscripts. And there are 2094 literary works in foreign languages not including 18 foreign parchments. The autographs and correspondence of 6096 persons can also be found here. The library thus has 104924 works and 149190 volumes.
The Medical Association, founded in 1805, has in 1891, 20 honorary members, 29 active and 90 correspondents. The archives set up in 1852, have around 20 million document numbers. There is an Archeological Committee. 5 periodicals are printed: Wilno Wiestnik, Guberniya News, Lithuanian Eparchy News, Wilno Academic Circulars and Medical Association Official Records. Kirkor mentions the periodicals published earlier, up until 1864, in his “Guide to Wilno” and Dr. Szeliga’s “Warsaw’s Bibliographical Information.” There are 4 fair-sized book shops, 8 second-hand book shops, 9 printing plants belonging to: Zawadzki, Syrkin, the guberniya administration, the army, Romm (Jewish), Dworzec, Blumowicz, Zymel and Matz. There is the Geographical Association, meteorology station, amateur musical-drama club, private music school, theatre, 3 clubs including a gentlemen’s, army and chess, an animal shelter and the Friends of Horse Racing. The 36 insurance companies insure against fire and hail, life and property.
The history Historians relate various stories about the beginnings of Wilno. Szafarzyk speaks of a huge Slav tribe, the Wilki (Wolves) which resided in the Wilno area from the 2nd. century and which drove out the Goths and Vandals. Apparently it is those Wilki who established Wilno (Ancient Slavs II,§ 44, page 783). Długosz maintains the Lithuanians, not the Slavs were the first settlers but not the natives. He believes they were Roman newcomers. (History, III, 446, published by Przezdziecki). There is yet a third theory, which maintains the Waregi founded Wilno (Snorr-Sturlezon, cited by Czacki: Lithuania and Polish law, I, 16, published by Turowski). Due to a lack of facts these contradictory theories can neither be accepted nor rejected. There is a strong likelihood the Lithuanians were the first settlers and also the natives because the Długosz theory does not hold fast. It can also be said with certainty that Wilno existed long before it was ever mentioned in the chronicles.
Wilno is no exception when it comes to the legends surrounding an old settlement. Krakow has its Wawel and Wilno its Bakszta. This was an ancient settlement, which through the centuries became a fortified stronghold. It was here, in the dungeons that the basilisk lived. The dungeons stretched to the river Wilenka, which flows at the foot of the mountain. The basilisk killed every passer-by with his glance as no one could withstand it until one day someone daring enough entered the dungeons with a mirror. On seeing his own reflection in the mirror, the basilisk was so shocked he dropped down dead. The legend reminds us of the Wawel dragon and shows the affinity between the folks and their relationship. Today, on that very spot, stands a charitable organisation – the Christ Child. The dungeon, which supposedly linked the Trocki Castle to the Bakszta, was filled in only a few decades ago. The basilisk legend is common to many cities and has its beginnings much later (XV century) and cannot be regarded as having to do with the early days of Wilno or the Wawel dragon.
The Bakszta lies on the Wilenka, formerly known as the Wilna, which gave its name to the town. The town expanded around the Bakszta. It is most likely that in the early days, when the Bakszta was a stronghold, there were a few houses scattered around it and on the riverbanks, the remaining area being forest. That centuries-old forest is where the town stands today.
The chronicles are silent on the very early days of Wilno. There is only a little information on the Lithuanian Princes in the XI and XII centuries. We do know that the Wilno Princes were independent as far back as XI century. Around 1070, Roscislaw, the son of Rohwolod, the Polocki, Slucki, and Drucki Prince, ruled Wilno. Then came his son Dawid, who was followed by his son, Dawid II. The latter’s son Gerden or Erden ruled in Polock in 1264. Soon afterwards the famous and mighty Giedymin appears but no longer as an independent prince but as the lord and ruler of Lithuania and Ruthenia. Our historians maintain the mighty Giedymin was the son of Witenes but this is a false statement. He was, in fact, his brother. A third brother existed, Wein, also a Polocki prince. We see here the closeness of the people to the predominant Polocki house.
The same cannot be said of religion. The Rurykowicz family ruling in Polock and other small Ruthenian duchies are believers in Christ whereas those ruling the idolatrous Lithuania and Samogitia worship Perkunas or maybe just pretend to. Giedymin, Kiejstut and Olgierd are all worshipers of Perkunas as is the whole of Lithuania. (Kirkor, the Lithuanian Basilica page 4).
The Woskresenskaja chronicle (I, 48) paints a somewhat different picture of these independent princes. Karamzin (vol. IV, 82, note 103, VI publication) is less critical of the writings of the chroniclers and the controversial Narbutt merely skims over them maintaining they are somewhat dubious. After the death of Dawid II, Prince of Wilno and during his son’s reign (Gerden) in Polock, but before Witens took over as the Grand Prince (1293), a certain Swintorog ruled in Wilno. (information according to the chronicler, Bychowiec). The manuscript lies in the Posen Library as left by Narbutt). It was this Wilno prince who set up an altar to Perkunas at the point where the Wilna (Wilejka) enters the Neris (Wilia) in a valley surrounded by mountains and ancient oak trees. He kindled a fire and assigned the area to the cremation of the Wilno princes (Narbutt, IV, 248). According to the Lithuanian custom, a sacred copse was chosen and an eternal fire was lit for Perkunas, the god of thunder. Swintorog was cremated by his son, Germont. This sequel of events leads us to believe that it was probably Germont or maybe even his father, Swintorog, who transferred the Roma on the Dubiss and Niewiaza to Wilno after it had been twice destroyed by the Teutonic Knights, who had taken advantage of the turmoil prevailing in Lithuania after Mendoga’s death. (Jaroszewicz, Picture of Lithuania, I192: Antonowicz, Oczerk ist. Grand Duchy of Lithuania, 82). For a long, long time, this place probably remained a peaceful shelter for the priests until it gradually grew into a large settlement and took on historical importance. As far as is known, Giedymin was the second burnt offering in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, after Swintorog. Due to recent research, the concept behind the words “crive” or “krywo krywaite” (Hartknoch writes it “kriwe kriweita”) as a general priestly status has been radically changed. During the IX archeological convention in Wilno in 1893, Prof. Mierzynski gave a lecture in which he stated that the word “kriwe” does not stand for the priestly status but is in fact the name of the last sacrificer in Roma on the Dubiss and Niewiz. His theory is based on facts from the political life in earlier Lithuania, Lithuanian mythology and also linguistic sciences. He maintains that the idea of high-priests was unknown in Lithuania at that time and that this is a concoction thought up by the chroniclers and historians, especially Duisberg who using the parallelism with the Pope created a high-priest for Lithuania naming him kriwe kryweita.
It was only in 1320, when Giedymin settled in his castle here that there is more insight into the historical happenings of the town. The chronicles provides the following reason for the establishment of castles in Wilno: Giedymin and his large retinue were on a hunting trip here in the Lyse Mountains, which encircle the Wilna entering the Wilia, and supposedly killed an aurochs (the mountain takes its name from the animal - Tur). That night he spent in the ruins of Swintorog’s castle and dreamt that he had seen an enormous wolf where he had killed the aurochs. The wolf was covered with a sheet of iron and its howling sounded as that of a hundred wolves. He told his courtiers of his dream and only one high priest, Lezdejko could interpret the dream to the curious princes’ satisfaction. : a steel wolf means a fortified castle and town will arise on the ruins and the howling wolves means the settlement will be known far and wide for its citizens.(Stryjkowski, Chronicle, I, 372, published 1846). Giedymin took the explanation to heart and immediately set to building a fortified castle and 6-sided ornamental tower on top of the Tur mountain. At the bottom of the hill near the Perkunas copse and holy remains, he had another castle built. The Krzywy castle (crooked) was of wood had towers, a palisade and battlements. With the transfer of the capital from Trok to Wilno, the number of townspeople and buildings grew, the former even more so when Giedymin began encouraging Germans to settle. In 1323, Giedymin, as King of Lithuania and Ruthenia was already writing letters from Wilno to the Pope, monastic orders and German towns. (Danilowicz, Diplomats’ treasury I, N. 297-300).
Wilno was a fair-sized settlement even before Giedymin’s time. He named Gastold his deputy after moving the capital from Trok to Wilno. From that moment on the town expanded, a fact he himself bore great influence upon. He encouraged foreign tradesmen and merchants to settle here, especially Germans from the Hanseatic towns. (Jaroszewicz l.c. I, 105: Narbutt, l. c. IV, 143, 518, appendix XIV: Czacki, I, 143). The agreement between Giedymin, the archbishop of Riga and Master of the Livonian Order of the Brothers of the Sword, signed in 1323, proves the historical importance of Wilno. It included the following main points: safety of travellers in both countries: fair trials for all in disputes and wrongs suffered: return of loot: release of runaway servants and menials (Danilowicz, l. c., N. 302); and later in 1325 a covenant was concluded here with Lokietko (Bielowski’s Monuments of History II, 619; Danilowicz, l. c., N. 318, 321, 322). Thanks to Giedymin’s exertions Wilno and its population grew. There are even signs that point to the existence of Christian churches (Balinski, Wilno, I, 64; Przyjalgowski, The Lives of Bishops wil., I 5; Danilowiczl. c., N. 299). However, the town was still far from becoming the capital.
It was, in fact, Olgierd’s growing power that influenced the town’s development. Trading increased, merchants, no matter which denomination, were granted various privileges (Kraszewski, Wilno, I, 365). During Olgierd’s reign, the Christian population was taken care of by his deputy, Gastold, a Catholic married to Ms. Buczacka. It was he who brought the Franciscans and had a wooden monastery erected for them. Today the governor general’s palace and the Bonifratre Church stand on the spot. The Franciscans were already present in Lithuania during Giedymin’s reign and had a church in Wilno (St. Michal’s on the Sands), which was built by German Catholics. (Kirkor, Basilica, 7). While Gastold was out of town, a group of Lithuanians entered the monastery and murdered 7 monks. A further 7 were captured on the Lyse Mountains whilst trying to escape and were crucified and their corpses thrown into the water. In their memory three crosses were erected and the Franciscans made it their task to take care of them. In 1866, they were replaced by three poplars, which today have grown into massive trees.
When Gastold returned, Olgierd ordered the perpetrators to be punished. Gastold brought in a number of Franciscan monks to replace the murdered ones and had them live on his castle grounds. Their home was situated where the church and monastery existed up until 1865 (today an archive). And so it was that three churches existed in Wilno during Olgierd’s time: St. Nicholas, the Blessed Virgin on the Sands and the chapel where the present day Holy Cross Church stands. Kraszewski maintains that there was already a Christian chapel on the grounds of today’s St. Peter’s Church during Olgierd’s reign.
The erection of many Orthodox Churches, during this period, proves that the Eastern Church was also well established. Wilno was being visited by many Ruthenian merchant, some of whom also settled here. Although Olgierd never prevented the Christian people from worshipping, allowed the Franciscans to spread the word of God, had a Christian wife and even had his children baptised thus facilitating their future ascendancy to Ruthenian thrones, he himself remained a heathen to his death. This theory is upheld by Danilowicz (l.c., N. 459) and Bartoszewicz (Orgelbrand’s Encyclopedia, XIII, 510) but not by Karamzin (l.c., V, 55) and Stadnicki (Olgierd and Kiejstut, page 117 and others.) After Olgierd’s death in 1377, Jagiello ascended the throne.
In spite of Olgierd’s immense power and the fact that during his reign Lithuania enjoyed a period of glory, the capital was often attacked by the Teutonic Knights and Demetrius, the Grand Prince of Moscow. A disastrous famine visited the town in 1362 but an even greater tragedy took place towards the end of his reign. Gottfryd Linden, Marshall of the Teutonic Knights with 12000 soldiers attacked the town where the now elderly Olgierd had taken refuge together with his family. The castles fought bravely and fiercely resulting in a cease fire during which the Knights laid a fire, which destroyed 2/3 of the homes of this young town.
It regained its former glory during Jagiello’s reign. He took good care of the people and they in return showed their allegiance in the following civil war. The chroniclers (Stryjkowski, II, 62, 63; Kojalowicz, History of Lithuania., 361) describe the siege of Wilno by Kiejstut in 1381 and include details of the tricks he used to achieve his goal. Kiejstut got wind of an agreement between Jagiello and the Teutonic Knights, which would bring about his downfall and decided to rob him of his throne. And so he sent 300 of his dedicated men, dressed as travellers and 600-armed men hidden in wagons of hay and skins. When this was done, he and 100 men on horseback rode, of a sudden, into Wilno from Trok. He seized the lower castle together with Jagiello, his mother and sister, Maria, and her husband Wojdylla who were not prepared for the attack. His friendship with Witold saved him from a worse fate. He ended up getting his treasures, districts in Krewa (castle and lands) and the Witeb Duchy. He was obliged to renounce the Lithuanian throne but waited for a favourable opportunity to regain it. Kiejstut being involved in a war with Korybut, the Siewierski Prince could only provide Witold with a minimum of soldiers to protect Trok and Wilno. Jagiello took advantage of this fact and with the support of the Wilno townsmen, who trusted him more than Kiejstut, regained the town. This was the first time that the people of Wilno took part in a public situation. Wilno was to witness many such bloody scenes in the next years.
Just as Wojdyla, Jagiello´s brother-in-law, regarded by Kiejstut as the mainspring and prevaricator and possibly the leader of the Christian faction was publicly hanged on the Lysa Mountain so, after Kiejstut’s demise, Widymund, his father-in-law was hanged and Butryma, a relative, was drawn by horses. In 1382, thanks to a ruse, Kiejstut was captured by Jagiello, imprisoned in Krew and murdered on Jagiello’s orders. His body was brought to Wilno and burned in pomp on Swintorog´s ashes. This was the last cremation of a prince according to heathen practices.
In the second half of XIV century, Wilno developed into a wealthy and expansive town. On the high hill where the Wilna flows into the Wilia there was a high-walled, strongly fortified castle with three towers shooting up into the sky, surrounded by a high embankment. To the south, between the hill and the river Wilna, stood a large house, which belonged to the distinguished Lithuanian family, Monwid. The lower castle spread out at the foot of the hill and was known as Krzywy Castle (crooked). Somewhat further in the sacred valley of Swintorog, which was covered with ancient oak trees and where the two rivers merge you could perceive the various buildings of the temple with their eternal flames incorrectly named znicz by earlier writers. Znicz or correctly zinicze describes the place where temple existed. According to Karlowicz however, zincz, ziniczus alias zinczius refers to the priest who keeps the fire alive. (Kirkor, Lithuania and White Russia page 32). Directly next to them were the homes of the high priests (kriwe). A monument on a stone pedestal to the god of thunder, Perkunas, stood among the huge oak trees where the cathedral stands today. The Holy Square as it was known was surrounded by far-flung buildings, mainly of wood and with towers. These belonged to the lower castle. The Grand Prince’s palace comprised a number of large buildings among which one was set aside for the storage of treasures and stables (today part of the park adjacent to the main gate of the botanical gardens). To the south of the Perkunas temple stood a tall, round, stone tower with a window. It was from this window that the highest-ranking high priest proclaimed the wishes of the gods to the people. It is thought that that tower is the present day cathedral bell tower with the two built-on storeys housing the bells. The Crooked Castle was enclosed with a thick palisade and, moreover, bordered on one side by the river Wilna (flows differently today) and on the other by the Giedymin Canal (presently the entrance of the Wilejka into the Wilia).
From the west gate of the lower castle a road passed over two bridges on the Wilna and Wingra and continued north; another from the ferry crossing on the Wilia in the direction of Kiernow, Lithuania’s oldest capital, to the Wilkomirski castle; yet another to the left of the ferry crossing, today the Lukiszki suburbs, leads towards the sacred copse where many of the oaks and firs are dedicated to various gods. There were two more roads leading from the Crooked Castle: one to Trok, in a westward direction, passing by the Franciscan monastery and the other passed the Greek Orthodox monastery of the Holy Ghost behind which it split up into three routes: to Grodno, Lida and Miednik. And finally there was the road leading to Polock over the bridge on the Wilenka near the Greek Orthodox Church of Preczystej (Immaculate).
The lesser-known pagan temples included: Perkunas on the Swintorog ashes, another on the present day site of the Church of St. John. In Antokol, the temple of the goddess Milda, today St. Peter’s; the pantheon of the Lithuanian gods, presently the site of the army hospital and the former Sapiecha Palace and Church of Jesus Christ (Stryjkowski, l. c., I, 473). In the upper castle, on the steep slopes of the Wilenka there was also a pagan temple, which was later transformed into the Church of St. Martin and the Ragulis Temple was converted into the Greek Orthodox Piatnicka Church by Maria Witebska, Olgierd’s wife.
Apart from the main pagan temples, which have been described and mentioned in various chronicles and documents, there were the sacred copses dedicated to various gods: in the Swintorog valley there was a small oak copse, which provided timber for the Perkunas altar (Stryjkowski, l. c., I, 473). The post Bernardine garden, until recently called a copse by the local people, was a sacred one. Here, on the Wilenka stood a pagan temple. 30 years ago, a leg belonging to a huge statue of dark granite was found in Lukiszki where sacred copses used to exist. There used to be a wooden building surrounded by a high fence, housing stalls and merchants’ homes on the site of the present day theatre and Greek Orthodox Church. (Kirkor, Guide to Wilno 2nd. edition 19-21). The town was in a relatively healthy state during Jagiello’s reign and before his baptism. His court was wealthy and he took good care of the merchants which, in turn, meant more movement and a population increase in this not yet European capital. Furs, wax and honey, local and imported, from the depths of Ruthenia, were sold by the townspeople to Germany and the Teutonic Knights who often attacked the merchants, took them prisoner and confiscated their goods. Jagiello, however, protected his people by implementing the sword and treaties. (Raczynski, Diplomatic Lithuanian Code, 61. Wizerunek i roztr., XXIV 71-76).
Due to the protection provided during the next 20 years, the town could recover from the calamity experienced towards the end of Olgierd’s reign when the greater part of Wilno was burned down. Soon, new wooden houses arose and the town expanded up the hill but this expansion was brought to a temporary halt in 1383 when the Teutonic Knights struck, once again. Although the castles in Trok and Kowno ensured the town was not directly attacked, this time, with Witold’s support, they succeeded. After capturing Trok, four Commanders with a strong army headed for Wilno intending to destroy it. However, they were confronted by the valiant Lithuanians who fought fiercely to protect their gods and homes and who, indeed, succeeded in preventing the onslaught. The two armies met just outside the town and after a bloody battle the Germans had to surrender. However, part of Wilno was, once again, lost to fire. (Narbutt, l. c., V, 335). The year 1387 brought Lithuania and its capital major public changes which had been in the making for some time.
On ascending the Piast throne, Wladyslaw Jagiello promised to bring the word of God to his countrymen and when he arrived in Wilno with his wife, Jadwiga, to fulfill his promise, the town was, to a large part, already Christian. The population was mainly Lithuanian and idolatrous but there were also the German tradesmen from the times of Giedymin and the Ruthenian merchants from Olgierd’s time. Apart from Christians, Jews had apparently been settling here since 1326 (Narbutt, l. c., VIII, 490; Dzialynski, Law Collection , 102, 109; Czacki, On Polish and Lithuanian Law, I, 93; Wiszniewski, Monuments III, 94;Danilowicz, Wilno Daily 1823, I, 390). Although many pagan temples and altars were being erected, the German Catholics and Ruthenians already had their own places of worship (Sofijski wremiennik, 1381; Danilowicz, Lithuanian Chronicle 204; Pictures and Debates XIV, 134, 135).
The people and especially the boyars who were more accustomed to the cross emblem were not as opposed to accepting the Christian faith and western civilisation as Giedymin’s people. The Grand Prince’s autocratic rule of this simple people, the air of dignity surrounding the more important princes already baptised in Krakow and the presence of the knights accompanying Jagiello helped them overcome their resistance and sorrow when involuntarily rejecting the beliefs and gods of their forefathers. Not even the high priests could help. They could no longer exercise their influence. The general morale had sunk so low. So when Jagiello gave orders to have the temples and statues demolished it was done without much ado in the presence of Queen Jadwiga, the Mazowsze Princes, lords, and Polish clergy. The eternal Perkunas fire was extinguished and on its site the St. Stanislaw was Cathedral was erected (the following writers provided fairly precise descriptions of the Cathedral: Narbutt: Dzieje VII, addit. XII and in The Lesser Articles; Kraszewski: Wilno, II 183-296; Balinski: Wilno, I, 117 Ancient Poland, III, vol. 1, XIV, 1; XXIV, 268; Przyjalgowski: The Lives of the Wilno Bishops; Korotynski: Orgelbraun’s Encyclopedia, Wilno; Kirkor: Walks and a Guide to Wilno; Lithuania and White Russia, 3 vol. Zywopis. Ross: The Graves of the Grand Princes and Royals; The Lithuanian Basilica).
People from the town and surrounds were brought together in small groups and baptised. In order to precipitate the ceremony, each person was given only one name. Hosts of Lithuanians also arrived enticed by the white outfits bought in Poland by Jagiello and distributed among the newly baptised. Immediately thereafter the Grand Prince ordered the crosses to be placed on the site of the former temples and churches began to arise enabling a smooth transition from pagan to Christian worship. Rich furnishings were not spared on the Cathedral and bishopric. Andrzej Wasillo was the first Wilno bishop. Bodzanta, the Gniezno archbishop blessed the Cathedral and the Queen provided expensive furnishings and vessels (Kirkor: The Wilno Cathedral’s Treausures, Quarterly Klosow, II 161). St. Jan’s Church was founded (Kraszewski and Balinski: The History of Wilno and St. Marcin on top of the Royal Hill; finally a chapter of prelates and cathedral canons was set up and in the more important parts of Lithuania parish churches were founded (Whether Jagiello left for Krakow a pagan or if he converted from the Ruthenian to the German faith as some chroniclers, mentioned by Narbutt, maintained can be read up in Malinowski’s important appendix to Wapowski’s Chronicle vol. 1, page 62).
After arranging a Roman Catholic hierarchy in the capital (Wapowski, I, 74), Jagiello began to transform the still Asiatic town into a European one. Up until then it had been in an almost barbaric and servile state (Balinski, Wilno, I, 111-117), the native Lithuanians worked their gardens and served the castle and boyars. Few were merchants or tradesmen as were most Germans and Ruthenians who were, therefore, wealthier than the former. They were overseen by the castle or county bailiff as in the past and the newcomers or Germans, were governed by a different law. In 1387, while arranging his former capital to resemble Krakow, Jagiello bestowed upon it the Magdeburg Right with all its privileges namely: independent selection of mayor and wojt courts thus liberating them from the authority of the aristocratic officials. The townspeople’s duty was to guard the castles (Collection of Government Documents and Acts NN. 1, 2, 3, 4, 26). However, those who were excluded from the municipal rights but lived on lands belonging to the castle or church (Dubinski: Collection of Laws and Privileges, published in 1788, page 1; Illustrations, III, XXIV, 71, 76) being serfs were subject to the principles and conceptions of the times.
Jagiello’s final decisive act during the time of major reform in Lithuania was naming his brother, Skirgajlo, his vice-regent and staffing the Wilno castles with Poles. His reign was not beneficial for Wilno. He lived in Troki and neglected Wilno. He did not encourage business growth, ensure implementation of the municipal privileges and propagate the new faith. However, the loyalty shown Jagiello by the people of Wilno was overwhelming and when Witold decided to overpower the incompetent Skirgajlo in the hope of ruling Wilno, his plans were shattered by the people led by Sudimunt. There was one occasion when he almost succeeded. He put a rumour into circulation that he was giving away his sister, Ryngala, in marriage to the Mazowiecki Henry. He, in fact, sent 300 wagons, supposedly laden with meats and other edibles, but really with armed soldiers, into Wilno and together with another armed detachment awaited them on the edge of town. The ruse was discovered and Witold returned empty- handed to the Teutonic Knights with whom he devised new plans resulting in the arrival of the largest crusade in a country, which was already Christian. The 40.000 armed men came from all over Europe. Witold counted to the enemy as did Samogitia, which he had earlier incited.
The attack, led by Engelhard Rabe, took place in 1390 (Balinski: Ancient Poland III, l. c.; Narbutt, l. c., V, 448 ; Bychowiec Chronicle, 59). On hearing this, Jagiello sent Mikolaj from Moskorzew, the deputy Chancellor of the Treasury, with a detachment of Polish troops to support those at Wilno Castle and Skirgajlo gathered together the Lithuanian army. The Teutonic Knights outnumbered them and captured Kowno, burned Troki, forced Skirgajlo to retreat and clashed again outside Wilno. In the battle between Werki and Szeszkinia Hill, the Lithuanians were defeated and took refuge in the lower castle with their leader, Kazimierz Korygajlo, Jagiello’s brother. Moskorzewski and the Polish troops fled to the upper fortification. At this point, the Knights surrounded Wilno and, on 4 August, stormed it. They burned the palisades and wooden houses and so seized the Crooked Castle. Several thousand English, Samogitians, soldiers and civilians lost their lives in this horrendous massacre. Kazimierz Korygajlo also died as did many of the enemy including Towciwill, Witold’s brother and Algard, Count Hochenstein.
After this bloody victory and seizure of the town, the upper castle was cordoned off. The Prussians, Inflants and French, who had only been storming the upper castle, joined ranks with the English and Samogitians, in the hope of finally capturing it. Moskorzewski defended it valiantly for 5 weeks until hunger, cold and a shortage of gunpowder forced the Knights to withdraw. Yet another reason was Jagiello’s approaching army. He arrived in the ransacked capital with relief troops in November. He helped the people rebuild their homes, replenished the treasury and had the castles fortified. He put Olesnicki in charge, in place of Mikolaj Moskorzewa, and returned to Poland (Balinski, l. c., Narbutt, l. c.; Stryjkowski, II, 84; Kojalowicz, II, 20; Voigt, V, 459; Długosz, III,462; Bychowiec Chronicle, 61).
Wilno was once again endangered in 1392. Another gigantic crusade, instigated by the hungry-for-power Witold, and led by the Grand Master Konrad Wallenrod was on its way. In September, the Crusaders set up camp between the Crooked Castle and the Franciscan Church of Mary. Olesnicki burned the houses left over from the last siege and caused so much damage that Wallenrod gave up and returned to Kowno having lost time, money and men.
Skirgajlo’s rule ends in 1392 and a new era begins for Wilno. The past era with its many disasters and incompetent ruler was not conducive to the town’s development.
On the contrary, it was almost annihilated due to the lawless rule of the army. Burned and ransacked, Wilno was no longer an expansive town. Trading had diminished and the town which ought to have flourished under the Christian civilisation banner was experiencing destitution, which it may not have even known while half pagan. After the death of his favourite brother, Wigunt, who was buried by Korygajlo in the Wilno Cathedral (Kirkor, Graves, 9; Długosz, III, 468), Jagiello, weary of the complaints about Skirgajlo’s ruling, finally decided to reconcile with Witold. He arrived in Wilno in 1392 and having made a joint decision with Queen Jadwiga made him his vice-regent in Lithuania. Thanks to Jadwiga’s persistency he managed to reconcile Witold with Skirgajlo giving the latter the Duchy of Kiev.
Skirgajlo, coveting the supreme post, did not abide by the treaties (Golebiowski, Reign of Wladyslaw Jagiello, note 62; Danilowicz, The treasury, I 621-23; Stadnicki, Wladyslaw Jagiello’s Brothers , 278) and conniving with his brother, Swidrygajlo, came up with a scheme to overthrow Witold. They began gathering an army in Ruthenia and Swidrygajlo set off to meet the Knights in the hope of convincing them to invade Lithuania once more. Jagiello and his wife arrived in Wilno in 1393 hoping to appease the situation and succeed after conferring lands on Skirgajlo and other related princes.
Swidrygajlo, however, did not keep to the agreement and together with the Teutonic Knights, led by the Grand Master, Konrad Junging, attacked Lithuania in 1394. They ransacked the entire area around Kowno, Grodno and Wilno and laid siege to Wilno. Having supplied both castles and the people with enough soldiers, Witold left Wilno to better face the enemy. The Teutonic Knights select army joined forces with the Livland Master’s one, cordoned off the town and with the help of towers began to demolish the ramparts and the town’s palisade. Witold surrounded the enemy from all sides ensuring no provisions for man and beast could be brought in. After three weeks of escapes from the castles and harassment from Witold’s side, the Grand Master was exhausted and disheartened. Swidrygajlo, on the other hand, wanted to try his luck again by implementing deceitful measures. He came up with the idea of igniting the turrets just as the castle was about to be stormed. He was unsuccessful and the Grand Master called the siege off and even began arranging a peaceful return back over the river Niemen with Witold. (Narbutt, V, 520). In spite of this the Samogitians attacked the Knights in the forests by the river Strawa leaving them with only half their original number.
From the time of the Peace Treaty between the Grand Master and Lithuania on 12 October 1398 on Salin, an island in the Niemen, (Raczynski, Lithuania’s Diplomatic Code, 251; Narbutt, V, 595) during Witold’s reign, Wilno was spared enemy attacks. Trading began to flourish, the number of houses and streets increased and with the settling of the Tartars from Azow in the town centre (Lukiszki), the number of nationalities represented increased (Jaroszewicz, Image of Lithuania, II, 80; Stryjkowski, II, 113; Narbutt, VIII, 246; Czacki, l. c., II, 148) and additional numbers of cathedral clergy contributed to the well being of its people. The town experienced a terrible shock when, in 1399, a fire, which begun in the royal stables almost devastated the entire town. The lower castle and cathedral disappeared, all the royal horses died and the treasury, worth around 6000 pieces of silver, was destroyed. The disaster was complete but Witold’s supreme authority was able to lift the town out of its misery. And so by 1401, the town had risen from its ashes and was able to receive Jagiello and accommodate his retinue and accompanying lords. The reason for this assembly was to renew the unification of the Crown and Lithuania. Jadwiga was dead and Jagiello wanted to ensure his progeny would rule here in future.
The following years saw the humiliating defeat of the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Grunwald, repossession of entire Samogitia, newly arranged administration in Lithuania resulting from the Horedel Union (Plater, Collection of Diaries, I, 1-16) and the constant increase of clergy funds all of which raised Wilno to the status of one of the most splendid medieval cities of the north. The spoils taken during the wars with the Knights enriched the Wilno churches, especially the cathedral, which was adorned with utensils, books and chasubles (Kirkor, The Lithuanian Basilica, 54). King Wladyslaw Jagiello and his wife Anna visited Wilno again in 1411.
After the government reform and Lithuania’s acceptance of the crests and privileges of the Polish aristocracy in 1413 (Plater, l. c., 3), the municipal authorities probably followed the guidelines of the Magdeburg Right more closely. It was at this time that the offices of voivode and castellan were created and it was in Wilno that agreements were arranged with the Teutonic Knights. It was from here, too, that Jagiello and Witold carried out their religious conversion work in Samogitia, which had been heathen up until then.
In 1423, a very interesting but not exactly accurate account of Wilno was written by Gilbert de Lannoy, a knight, diplomat and pilgrim and published by Lelewel (Material pertaining to the History of Poland, 379). It shows us what the general European opinion of the mighty Witold’s capital was. The aforementioned traveller, returning from Nowogrod to Dyneburg via Lithuania describes it so: “I travelled from the royal court through many villages, large lakes and expansive forests; I arrived in Lithuania’s main town, named Wilno, where a castle stands high on top of a sandy hill. It is surrounded by stones, earth and a wall. The buildings within are entirely of wood. Two wings of the castle stretch down the slopes and are encircled by a wall within which precincts there are many houses. In this said castle Prince Witold, ruler of Lithuania has his court and living quarters. Close by the castle flows a river making its way through the town below and this river is called the Wilna. The town is not closed in but is long and narrow, stretching from the top of the hill to the bottom and with badly arranged wooden houses; some churches are brick-built. This said castle is built like a wall on the hilltop”. Although Wilno was misshapen and badly built, as maintained by the Fleming, as the capital of the mighty ruler it had a prospering trade and a large variety of tradesmen and merchants.
The original charters bestowed upon the city are unknown to us and only from later conferments can we surmise that Witold protected mainly the Roman Catholic population. Proof of this are the 1432 privileges exempting the townspeople from paying various taxes. The spirit of the epoch and various changes in the country were not conducive to toleration, which only developed in later centuries. His continuing influence on the eastern faith, his desire for supremacy and his embroilments with the Moscow Metropolitan, Focyusz, led to the creation of a new Metropolitan post for Lithuanian Ruthenia in the person of Grzegorz Cemblak. He set up his office in Wilno in 1416 and from then onwards the Greek Orthodox Church of the Mother of God was the Metropolitan seat (Chronicler Danilowicz, 238; Jaroszewicz, l. c., II, 32; Czacki, l. c., I, 294; Narbutt, l. c., VI, 339, 363, 497; Caro, History of Poland, II, 439-444; Hetele, Conciliengeschichte , VII, 342; Wiszniewski, Monuments, IV, 95; Arch. Kom. historycz., Krakow, 1878, I, 338).
On the whole, Wilno had, at this time, become a known and respected city so that during the signing of the peace treaty with the Teutonic Knights on the river Ossa in 1422, Wilno, along with other more important towns, was, for the first time, granted permission to act as guarantor for adherence to the treaty (Narbutt, VI, 442; Dogiel, Codex, IV, 110; Raczynski, Lithuanian Diplomatic Code, 285; Długosz, IV, 282).
Due to Witold’s vast connections, not only with Poland but also with Ruthenia, Tsarograd, the Tartars and West Europe, Wilno was often visited by famous people and was later the stage for important and splendid occurrences. Jagiello and his large entourage were Witold’s guests on a number of occasions and the sumptuousness of the reception indicate how rich the treasury was.
In 1414, Nowogrod Wielki sent its envoys to Wilno to conclude a new alliance with the Grand Prince and in 1427 and 1429, Pskowski messengers voluntarily deposited ransom money. It was in this Wilno castle that the Grand Prince of Lithuania raised two Tartar princes, Betzabula and Geren Jerden to the ranks of khans placing miters upon their heads. And it was here that he received rich gifts from the tsar of the Black Sea horde, Edzga. They arrived on camels clad in crimson and attended by 27 horses. Here too, Czech ambassadors tried three times to persuade Witold to accept their crown but finally in 1422 he sent his nephew and brother’s son, Zygmunt Korybut in his place (Prochaska, Poland and Czechoslovakia during the Hussite Era until the Recall of Korybut from Czechoslovakia VII, II; Smolka, Historical Sketches, I, 125) During Witold’s reign in 1427 work on the archipresbiterial Church of St. John apparently at the expense of the town itself (Kraszewski, Wilno, II, 436).
A further two disasters, which befell Wilno during that era left their mark. At the beginning of the XV century, the extreme hot weather caused the castle mountain to suddenly slide into the valley and bury Moniwid’s property. The Lithuanian lord’s manor suffered extensive damages. Even more dramatic was the 1420 plague, which cost many lives including that of the metropolitan, Cemblak. Before the Lithuanian hero died, the capital had a moment of glory and drew the attention of much of Europe upon itself. It is a known historical fact that Emperor Zygmunt attempted to sever the nations Jagiello had joined. Also known are the results of the Lucki Congress of 1429 when he offered Witold the Lithuanian crown. In spite of the King’s opposition and his advisors, Witold decided to be crowned in Wilno. The following year many important guests invited by Witold, arrived in Wilno .They included Grand Duke Basil the Blind from Moscow, Princes Twerski, Rjazan, Odojewski, Metropolitan Focyusz, Eliasz, voivode Rusdorf, the Prussian Master, the Livland Master, the Mazowiecki Princes, Tartar khans, and many, many lesser princes. Witold prepared a magnificent welcome and they in turn were ready to adorn his coronation with their presence. (Prochaska, Witold’s Last Days, 322). At the last moment, news arrived unexpectedly that the crowns sent by Zymunt had been stopped in Poland. This information was incorrect because, in fact, Zygmunt had been previously informed of the impending coronation and had not sent off the crowns. At the same time, Jagiello and his royal advisors approached hoping to reverse Witold’s intentions, so devastating to both countries. Witold was dismayed with this opposition but rode with Prince Basil one mile outside the town to greet the King. He treated him warmly but in spite of long talks his wish was not granted. Both parties returned to their homes and the aged Witold died in Troki, a broken man. The King took part in his funeral in the Cathedral Chapel of St. Stanislaw in Wilno at the end of October 1430 (Kirkor, Graves, II Basilica, 93; Długosz, IV, 383). After Witold’s death, the King named Swidrygala his successor but his scandalous and quarrelsome ruling did nothing positive to enhance the capitals position. The relationship with Poland was almost severed and trading was reduced to a minimum, however it did increase with Prussia and Ruthenia (Narbutt, VII, Extras).
Zygmunt Kiejstutowicz (1431-1440) follows but his rule is not more successful. At the very beginning of his reign in 1432, there were plots and conspiracies (Raczynski, The Lithuanian Diplomatic Code, 363). It was he who renewed the town privileges previously bestowed upon the town by Jagiello and Witold (Dubinski, l. c., 2, 3, 5). His charter of 23 September 1432 ensured the townspeople could trade throughout entire Lithuania without paying taxes and tolls. The second followed four days later and confirmed the Magdeburg Right, excluding all landed gentry from governing and putting the power in the hands of the voivodes only. The constant misunderstandings between Zygmunt and the rapacious Swidrygajlo undermined the seriousness of these statutes and destroyed any hopes associated with them. The charter given by Zygmunt affording the town weighing rights, cloth cutting and publican rights selling honey, beer and wine was not confirmed until 1441. The constant quarrels between the princes resulted in Swidrygajlo, not mindful of his previous defeat, attacking the city again with an even greater army made up of Lithuanian and Ruthenian troops. After Zygmunt retreated, he entered Wilno in 1433, ransacked it and then razed it to the ground. Zygmunt finally returned and defeated his opponent but the innocent city, once again, suffered the atrocities he permitted. Many foreign merchants, being unsure of the future, left the town and so affecting business. The townspeople did not enjoy any benefits as both Zygmunt and Swidrygajlo spent most of their time in Troki and not Wilno. Zygmunt’s generosity is reflected in the endowments left to the cathedral and its bishop. He was killed in Troki in 1440 and buried in Wilno. (Kirkor, Basilica, 100).
In spite of many contestants, Kazimierz, Wladyslaw Jagiello’s second son and King Wladyslaw Warnenczyk’s brother, managed to stay on the throne. Even Michal, Zygmunt’s son paid him homage although he spent his life plotting against him and only found peace when he was laid to rest in Wilno Cathedral (Golebiowski, The History of the Jagiellos, II99; III, 31-33; Kirkor, Basilica, 100). Kazimierz was received with great reverence by Bishop Maciej, the senators and the Lithuanian aristocracy and warmly welcomed by the people. On becoming the Grand Prince he immediately confirmed the municipal rights given by his predecessors (Dubinski, l. c., 7). The second charter conferred in Brest in 1441 allowed fortnight-long markets; on the Epiphany and Ascension Day (Dubinski, ibid), opening the doors to a bustling international trade for the merchants, also called guests. The same charter provided the town with an extensive piece of land beyond the Wilia, Lukiszki. In the same year the citizens were exempted from paying taxes throughout entire Lithuania and, in a separate clause, he bestowed this privilege upon them when trading with Czernihow.
On becoming King, he extended this privilege to all Wilno merchants trading in Poland (Collection of earlier Acts and Documents, 2, 7). The alliance, signed in Wilno, with Pskow, which remained under Kazimierz, supported the expansion of contacts of this relatively wealthy town with the capital (Malinowski, Wapowski’s Chronicle, II, 391). In return for services rendered, the King granted the aristocracy building plots, which belonged to Wilno Castle. And in 1451, although remaining under the Magdeburg Right, the townspeople were freed from providing horses and carts to the castle. All of this improved the general situation of the town, which had suffered depletion and disturbances and which now began to expand.
Frequent conventions, conferences, visits from foreign ambassadors and treaty signings took place in Wilno during this King’s reign thus bringing it into the limelight and giving it a notable place in history. Kazimierz spent almost half of his reign in Lithuania partly because of his attachment to his father’s ways and partly because of the unstable situation the land found itself being united with Poland. His time was spent, not only in Wilno but even more so in Trocki Castle and on hunting expeditions. In 1443, the Crimean Tartars requested the King make Hadzi Gerej a khan in Wilno (Narbutt, VIII, 53, 89; Siestrzencewicz, Histoire du Royaume de la Chersonese Taurique, page 351 ; Documents to the History of West Russia, I, 61). In 1455, emissaries of Ecyn Gerej, tsar of the Perekopski Tartars, were received in Wilno, offering reinforcements for the war against the Teutonic Knights. In 1463, emissaries from Kaffa arrived. In 1467, there were agreeable meetings with Khan Mendel Gerej; in 1468, delegate of the Great Master Henryk Plauen visited Wilno (Albertrandi, Kazimierz Jagielonczyk’s reign, II, 100) and in 1485 Prince Twerski, with the intention of regulating contacts between their countries (Documents on the History of West Russia, I, 62, 66). In 1448, many Tartar emissaries from Ruthenia, Prussian and Livland Masters from Nowogrod visited the capital to congratulate Kazimierz on the occasion of his ascension to the throne. Their sojourn was lengthy and the host spared no expense.
However, the most memorable time during his reign was the year 1451. Pope Pius II chose to celebrate the first anniversary of Christianity in Lithuania here. The ceremony, in which innumerable people took part, was held in St. Stanislaw Cathedral (Długosz, V, 92; Przyjalgowski, I, 50; Narbutt, VIII, 107; Albertrandi, l. c., I 58). We do not include the Seyms or rather conventions to which gentlemen from various Lithuanian governing bodies arrived. Almost every year these ended in demands to have voivode Gastold, the greatest fiend of the union with the crown, removed and that the King name a regent for Lithuania. One of the conventions held in 1464 is memorable because the country was given a judicial statute, which preceded the Lithuanian one (Danilowicz, Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk’s Statute, 1826, Wilno). On another occasion, in 1476, the King was asked to entrust the Grand Duchy to Jan Albrecht but, on departing, the father put the country in the hands of another son, Prince Kazimierz, without providing him with specific powers. He was a deeply religious man and died in Wilno Castle on 4 March 1484 as documented by Father Lipnicki (The Life, Miracles and Veneration of St. Kazimierz, Wilno, 1858, page 80), and according to Kirkor 1485 (The Graves of the Grand and Royal Princes in Wilno, page 30 and The Lithuanian Basilica, page 102) and was buried amid general sorrow in the Cathedral Chapel. He was canonised and became the patron saint of Lithuania.
Both Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk and Witold put all their efforts into the upkeep of the Roman Catholic faith in Lithuania (Kraszewski, Wilno, I, 162; Skarga, The Lives of the Saints, published 1780, I, 141). It was he who brought the Minorite monks, also known as the Bernardines, to Wilno in 1468 providing them with an expansive piece of land by the Wilejka, homes and a copse. A church and monastery were erected on this land, firstly wooden and then of brick and they stand to this day (Kirkor, A Guidebook, 153; Kraszewwski, Wilno, I, 159). During his reign the Church of St. Nicholas was built by Hawnul Nakienny, Wilno Regent and forefather of the Dowgiallow family (Niesiecki, II, 76; Grzybowski, Incalcuble Treasures, 115). It was most likely in place of the wooden one, which existed during Giedymin’s time.
Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk’s long and peaceful reign proved a blessing to Wilno, which could now bloom and flourish. By keeping the very wars at bay he ensured Wilno’s development. The real growth, however, took place during Aleksander’s reign. On the death of Kazimierz, the Lithuanian gentry acclaimed his son, Aleksander, successor without waiting for advice from the Crown. He was raised to Grand Prince in the Cathedral in 1492. (Wremiennik Sofijski, II 241; Stryjkowski, II, 294). Wilno certainly gained from his rule. Apart from confirming the earlier privileges bestowed upon the town, it was given the monopoly of the malmsey (and other wines) and hops trade; waxworks were founded (Dubinski, l. c., 10). Aleksander spent most of his time in Wilno Castle neglecting his home in Troki. The effect was an immediate increase in the number of solid buildings in the town; men in government and dealing with the royal court began buying homes from the townspeople and refurbishing them to suit their needs. In order to appease the situation with Tsar Iwan, Bazylew, Aleksander married his daughter Helena in 1495 and from then on Wilno grew noticeably in size and wealth. Having boosted the court’s splendour, Wilno now attracted many local and foreign settlers; trading with Ruthenia expanded. Unfortunately this state of affairs did not last long as the war with Moscow began in 1499 and lasted till 1503 with adverse effects on Lithuania. The 6-year truce agreed upon with Tsar Iwan encouraged merchants from Moscow, Nowogrod, Twer and other outlying towns in Ruthenia to visit Wilno again. For this reason Aleksander, who had been crowned king after the death of his brother, Jan Albert, in 1501, made use of the 1503 charter and permitted the erection of a guest house for the Ruthenian merchants. They were obliged to pay the taxes on their merchandise here and inform of their arrival (Dubinski, l. c., 18); this shows us that the presumption of more recent historians that this guest house dates back to the Giedymin era, if not even earlier, is simply based on the fantasy of the writer.
More or less from this point in time, the stability of Lithuania, as well as that of its capital, Wilno, began to quiver. The reasons were manifold. The main one was that Aleksander favoured Glinski (Hlinski) to the detriment of the other aristocracy and then came the disputes with the Crimean Tartars and the ensuing wars with them. The Tartars were drawing closer. Minsk had already been invaded. Wilno was in danger and its townspeople had begun to fortify the city at their own expense. Repair work began on the two castles and walls encircling them were erected with five exits. The Tartars moved up to Lida in 1505 but were defeated by Glinski at Klecki. This victory preceded Kazimierz’s death on 10 August. He was buried next to St. Kazimierz in the Cathedral (Kirkor, Graves, 31). In 1501, just a few years before his death, he founded the Dominican Church and a life-size portrait of him can be found there. For this reason, many believe he was buried there but that is not the case. A monument of Aleksander stood in the Cathedral but was destroyed during a fire. His portrait survived and was placed in the Dominican Church. During Aleksander’s reign, Wilno had a mint ran by Ulryk Hozjusz, the Cardinal’s father (Czacki, l. c., 158). Apparently a mint existed in Wilno during Witold’s reign. Silver denarii were found in the vicinity of Kowno. On one side a hunt was depicted and, on the other, the Jagiello columns. Documents from Aleksander’s era mention Lithuanian rubles. Czacki also writes about them as does Tyszkiewicz (Athenaeum, 1845, IV, 5, and also in the papers: Archeological Surveys, page 95). It was also during his reign that the first doctors and chemist’s appeared in the town; tradesmen received privileges, namely, shoemaker and goldsmith guilds. St. Ann’s Church was built and stands to this day. Queen Helena founded the Holy Ghost monastery and Mikolaj Radziwill and the Wilno voivode, the Church of Mary the White and St. Jerzy the Martyr in remembrance of the victory at Kleck and had the Carmelites settle here in 1514 (presently the diocese priesthood seminary). Finally a well-equipped armoury was opened in the upper castle (Kraszewski, Wilno, I, 196).
Wilno enjoys better times, if not the best, when Zygmunt, the Glogow Prince, becomes the Grand Prince of Lithuania. This just and excellent administrator omitted nothing which could encourage growth and prosperity in the capital. During most of his reign he spent half his time in Wilno preparing for wars and spared no privileges and new ideas on the town. It suffices to browse through the serious works of Dubinski, The Collection of Privileges to realise that, during his reign and thanks to his initiative or support, many large organisations/works arose in the town. He reaffirmed the previous privileges but the Wilno merchants were no longer exempted from paying toll in entire Poland. No payments were due for the large warehouse in Kowno. In 1522, the town became the sole owner of all the stalls in town. Following discussions with the voivode, who was in charge of the castles, the townspeople were freed from providing the castles with guards. A group of 24 workers was organised and managed by the Town Hall so ensuring the city gates were properly guarded (Kraszewski, Wilno, I, 210). The number of guilds was increased and they were equipped with arms. In times of need they acted as the local police. After talks with the bishop, the town gained the sole right of producing wax and selling wine (Kraszewski, ibid. 211).
After a series of disputes between the Town Hall and the people, the King deliberated with experts on the Magdeburg Right and introduced a separate charter, which provided for better and more permanent order in the town’s administration (Dubinski, 35). The mayors, chosen by townspeople one half of whom was Catholic, the other Greek Orthodox, had the town’s administration under control. The wojt and his councillors performed the court duties. The initial privileges gave the wojts unlimited powers but no income, apart from cases where the courts had erred. In 1432, the wojtship was incorporated into the town which meant that, from then onwards and during the reigns of Kazimierz, Aleksander and the Zygmunts, the wojt was chosen from among the people. In 1560 the Town Hall’s gentry ennobled the wojt who then usually bore the title HRH Secretary. A summoned wojt was not obliged to reply except in Wilno. Wojts and aldermen did not belong to the town’s administration.
We do not have an accurate listing of the Wilno wojts. Balinski attempted to draw one up from various annotations; Kraszewski simply copied it, having no other source and we are doing the same: 1) Jachno Lawrynowicz from 1485; 2) Mikolaj Otoczek 1506; 3) Mikolaj Prokopowicz 1511; 4) Szczesny Langurga 1527; 50 Augustyn Rotundus Mieleski 1542; 6) Stanislaw Sabina, doctor of medicine, 1584; 7) Tomasz Bildziukiewicz 1621; 8) Jozef Piotrkowicz 1649; 9) Stefan Bylinski 1622; 10) Andrzej Kotowicz 1666; 11) Pawel Boim 1667; 12) Bartlomiej Cynaki 1680; 13) Andrzej Gierkiewicz 1688; 14) Jan Leszkiewicz 1690; 15) Stefan Moroz 1701; 16) Jakub Wargalowski Stefanowicz 1713-1721; 17) Jerzy Fiedorowicz; 18) Onufry Minkiewicz 1753-1758; 19) Przemieniecki 1794 (Kraszewski, Wilno, III, 223).
There were a number of additional bills passed which were beneficial to the upkeep of order and protection of the town and its growth. The above was applicable to the central part of the town, that part which was surrounded by a wall. It was within the jurisdiction of the Town Hall and the Magdeburg Right. Other jurisdictions as the bishop and voivodeship remained under the general law and, as to the administration, they were dependant on the whims and measures of the bishops and voivodes.
In 1538 Zygmunt I decided to lift the taxes levied by the landlords on their people who had lived longer than 6 years in the town. This was to increase and stabilise the town’s population. Ulryk Hozjusz, town governor and mint worker, an intelligent and worldly man was granted permission by the King to build the so-called royal mill on the Wilenka. He had the right to retain one third for his involvement. In 1522 the first paper mill in Lithuania was built just behind it and in 1536 Hozjusz was allowed to build a permanent bridge over the Wilia (Green Bridge). Once the expenditure had been covered by the toll taken it was obliged to upkeep the walls of the public hospital attached to the Dominican Church of the Holy Ghost. The hospital was later renamed the Holy Trinity and remained in existence until the end of the XVIII century.
During Repnin’s times it was moved to the monastery connected to the St. Filip and Jakub Church and remains there to this day. Hozjusz kept his promise and his son finished the work. Years earlier another hospital, St. Maria Magdalena with a church of the same name, had existed in the castle grounds. Possibly, this was the first hospital in Wilno (Kraszewski, Wilno, II, 218). It was founded and furnished by Marcin from Dusznik, a Wilno canon and doctor. The more important places and houses were connected to a water system drawing water from the well outside the Subocz gate (today the post missionary). This amenity added to the comfort of life in the town.
During Zygmunt’s reign there was a marked improvement in building techniques. After the fires of 1513 and 1530 bricks were used. In the first of these fires the lower castle was burned and the adjoining part of the town. Zygmunt rebuilt it and had it turned into royal quarters. His son, Janusz, the Bishop of Wilno, had the cathedral renewed using his own capital and collections. In 1508, the convent of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady for the Bernardine nuns was built in Zarzecze. To show his gratefulness to God for the victory at Orsza, Prince Konstanty Ostrogski had the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity rebuilt in brick, in 1514. He also had the wooden Greek Orthodox Church of St. Mikolaj rebuilt in brick. In 1543, bishop Pawel, Prince Holszanski had the Church of the Holy Cross (today the post Bonifrater) rebuilt in brick to replace the wooden one, which was burned down in the last fire. The guest and warehouse, where furs and hats were stored and sold, was also rebuilt in brick and finally the private town houses were built by rule and line and with the town administration’s consent. Herberstein, the Tsar’s delegate to Moscow was also in Wilno and describes the town, at that time, in his works. Many brick built churches and houses were to be seen. We also have a plan of Wilno dating back to that era in the works Urbium praecipuarum totius mundi (III, 59). Kraszewski shows a rather inaccurate and reduced copy of it; a correct copy can be found in the XX volume of the works published by the Wilno Archeological Commission.
The first public schools begin to appear during Zygmunt’s reign. In 1522, the aim of the fifth scholastic prelature was to support the cathedral school. Around 1530 a primary school, attached to the Church of St. John, was opened. This was the beginning of printing plants: around 1530 Jakub Babicz’s Slav one and around 1533 Andrzej Leczycki’s Polish and Latin one (Narbutt, History, IX, 287; Kraszewski, Wilno, IV, 113).The King himself started the first collection of books, which he kept in the lower castle and was the first to set up a permanent and well-run chemist’s.
Other important events, which took place at this time, were: in 1509 Zygmunt swore peace with Basil in the presence of his emissaries; during a gentlemen’s convention, Glinski was pronounced a traitor; an ecumenical council headed by the metropolitan, Jozef Soltan, was held in Lithuanian Ruthenia (Karamzin, VI, 374, notes); in 1513, Queen Helena died and was buried in the Greek Orthodox Church of Our Lady; in 1514, the King received Konstanty Prince Ostrogski as he returned from Orsza; in 1522 during the Lithuanian Seym, the Grand Duchy received a statute from which only Wilno, in part under the town hall’s jurisdiction, was excluded from the Magdeburg Right; in 1529 during the general Seym the town was obligated to provide 1500 kop Lithuanian groszy for war time requirements (Dzialynski, Collection of Lithuanian Laws); in 1538 the diocese synod took place in the Church of St. Jan.
Although the above events played an important role in the city’s welfare it was, also visited by disasters: apart from the fires in 1513, 1530 and 1542 during which the Cathedral was destroyed, the Tartars brought with them the pest in 1506 and again in 1533.
In 1543, whilst his father was still living, the young Zygmunt August, took over the rule of the Grand Duchy. He and his wife Elzbieta, daughter of Ferdynand, lived in the lower castle. From that time Wilno could be compared to other notable European cities. The splendid court, the aristocracy with their palaces and manors attracted foreigners to the city, so encouraging and improving the trades and business. The population grew too, reaching 10.000. However, before this came to pass, the people suffered a famine, in 1544 at the very beginning of Zygmunt’s reign, caused by swarming locusts the previous year. The young King’s just government and his involvement as well as that of his kind-hearted wife eased the situation.
However, everything suddenly changed for the worse. Elzbieta died very young, in 1544, and was buried in the Cathedral beside Aleksander (Kirkor, Graves, 33). From that moment on, Aleksander was no longer as diligent in the performance of his duties.
When Barbara Gastold nee Radziwill conquered his heart, Zygmunt changed his life style for the better and this had a positive effect on the country. They married in secret in 1547 and when Zygmunt Stary died in 1548, Barbara was crowned Queen (Balinski, Historical Papers, I, II). Wilno became Zygmunt’s favourite capital. It improved with each day as it consolidated the principles of the Magdeburg Right and began to resemble Krakow in many ways. In 1543, a resolution was passed concerning the citizens’ wills and prohibiting the voivodes from involvement in city matters. In 1545, after Jan Hozjusz resigned from his post as curator of the Holy Trinity Hospital the King put it in the care of the city and he himself took over the patronage. In 1547 during the Seym held in Wilno, an important resolution for the city’s benefit was passed. The abuse in business was to be curtailed. In the same year the first glass works were built just outside Wilno and Palecki, a royal courtier, managed to gain rights to it. The city experienced a golden era because Zygmunt August was never away too long. On completing any business in Krakow he always hurried back to Wilno and the presence of the best artisans from Krakow ensured an increase in the number of guilds. An ever increasing number of foreigners, especially Germans, settled in the city and together with the wealthier local people they improved the standard of the buildings. The King himself invested much money in the castle and laid the foundations for St. Anne’s Church (not to be confused with the still existing one of the same name but built by Witold) where he assigned burial places for himself and his two wives (Polish Jagiellonki, I, 270, Przezdziecki and Szujski). Most important of all was the arms factory he had built on the Wilia, by the castle (Puszkarnia). It supplied the Lithuanian castles with cannons, harquebus, various types of bullets and even gunpowder.
Moreover, the improvements made to the Wilno mint, ran by Just Ludwik Deciusz, meant it could contend with the best abroad (Zagorski, Coins, 115; Balinski, the History of Wilno, II, 284). Once the improvements had been completed, it was moved to the Niemiecka (German) Street into a brick building bought by Hornostaj, the Lithuanian Treasurer, for 500 kop Lithuanian grosz in 1545. In 1552, during a municipal meeting, the King confirmed the ‘wielkierz” or procedures the courts were to follow according to the Magdeburg Right i.e. the payments obtained from court verdict/sentences (The Plebiscite or H.R.H. City of Wilno Wilkierz, Dubinski, 2899-312); he ordered that the noblemen who bought houses under the jurisdiction of the City Hall comply with their rules and regulations; the extensively developed guilds were reorganised.
The following is a list of the guilds which had their beginnings in the Jagiello times and exist to this day; hatter, morocco leather manufacturer, jeweller, cooper, carpenter, saddler, coach builder, weaver, potter, tailor, roper, watchmaker, upholsterer, piano builder, armourer, glover, locksmith, nail maker, shoemaker. The Jewish ones: chimney sweep, baker, cotton manufacturer, barber-surgeon, brush maker, blacksmith, locksmith, furniture maker, tailor, furrier, bronze smith, glazier, umbrella-maker, (Kraszewski, Wilno, III, 269-289; Kirkor, A Guide, 97).
In the following years, Zygmunt August bestowed even greater privileges on Wilno; during the Seym held in Wilno in 1560 the town and nobility were given permission to send their representatives to the Seym. This they immediately took advantage of, not only sending representatives to the Seym but also to the Union Seym; during another meeting in Grodno in 1568, the King conferred the privileges of the nobility and all their powers on those municipal workers who executed their duties impeccably; the City Hall could once again use the red sealing wax with the St. Christopher imprint and finally he assured the citizens of Wilno that the distribution of properties among the royal courtiers and envoys would be done in a just manner. From now on Wilno experienced liberation from the municipal state and became an integral part of the country and the two nations, which were finally unified in the Lublin Seym in 1569. While Wilno was thus prospering and growing, new religious opinions, which until now no one had heeded, were being expressed and on the tongues of all. Back in 1539, some priest called Abraham Kulwa had begun spreading the word of Martin Luther on his return from Germany. He had even opened a school but his efforts were thwarted by Pawel, Prince Holszanski and Bishop of Wilno. In 1555, yet another clergyman (a Wikelfist) held services in the German Church of St. Anne’s and reinstated the not-too-forbidden religion. He too was banished as soon as the clergy realised his intentions. However the seeds of this new faith had been sown (Balinski, Historical Writings, III, I; Lukazsiewicz, The history of the Helvetia Religion in Lithuania, I, page 1, note; Nowodworski, The Church Encyclopedia, VII, 287; Kojalowicz, Miscelanea rerum, page 12; Adamowicz, The Augsburg Church in Wilno). There were already a number of wealthy citizens practicing and Morsztyn even allowed secret meetings, which were held by the aforementioned banished clergyman. In 1556, Mikolaj Radziwill Czarny, theWilno voivode, had the courage to house a Protestant community/chapel in his manor in Lukiszki suburbs. Moreover, Zygmunt August turned a blind eye to the situation thus tolerating it as the spirit of the times commanded and he even had the chapel moved into his palace in the town centre.
From then on, the religious reform process blossomed in the Lithuanian capital and spread throughout the rest of the country (Lukaszewicz, l.c.; Adamowicz; Bukowski, The History of the Reformation, I, 329-367). In 1555, Alojzy Lippomani, the papal legate arrived in Wilno and attempted to stop the ever growing interest in the new religion but the King was not to be moved (Accounts of the Apostolic Nuncios, I, page 13). Waleryan Protasewicz, the Wilno bishop, came up with a more effective remedy when, he brought Jesuits, whose main goal was to combat heresy, to the town in 1569. At the beginning, the newly arrived Jesuits found difficulty in settling (Kirkor using the pseudonym Sliwowa wrote a monograph in Ruthenian for the Ruthenian newspaper in which he described in great detail the Jesuits beginnings in Wilno). Balinski maintains that even the chapter looked upon them with disdain. Piotr Royziusz, a well-known lawyer, Wilno canon and priest in St. Jan’s Church together with the City Hall strongly resisted the annexation of the reformed church to theirs; Kirkor maintains the opposite, that the chapter sent a deputation to meet them and the St. Jan’s Church and neighbouring house remained in the possession of the Jesuits (original document from the times of Jesuit settlement in Wilno describing their history is to be found among the manuscripts, fasc. I, NN. 25, 34, 35, 42). From then on the Jesuits were the reformed church’s greatest enemies but they finally managed to overthrow it.
Wilno became well-known during this era as Zygmunt August rarely left it and many major events took place. In 1551, the King put his beloved wife, Barbara, to rest in the Cathedral (Przezdziecki, Polish Jagiello Women, III, 243; Kirkor, The Lithuanian Basilica, 104; Golebiowski, The Times of Zygmunt August, I, 28). In 1555, during the diocese synod, it was decided to create an inquisitor position. In 1557, the King with his army set off for the Inflants. In 1561, during a splendid ceremony Gotard Kettler together with the Archbishop of Riga handed over Kurland in homage and the Inflants with Estonia as an inheritance. On 4 October 1562, Bishop Protasewicz married Jan, Prince of Finland and the King’s sister, Princess Katarzyna, in a sumptuous ceremony in the Cathedral. Priest Myszkowski gave a speech at the giving- away of the bride (Sandomierz Diaries, 61-66).
Although August’s envoys had arrived in Moscow in December they had not been able to reach a compromise and so in 1563, after Tsar Iwan Bazylewicz’s army (sought Katarzyna Jagiellonka’s hand in marriage) had taken Polocka and were about to seize Wilno, hetman Mikolaj Radziwill and Grzegorz Chodkiewicz set off from Wilno to meet them at Drucki where they defeated them in a valiant battle. However this was not the end of the war. Prince Kurbski escaped from Moscow and arrived in Wilno where he enjoyed August’s protection but caused much confusion in the peace process. It was not until 1568 that both sides finally reached a peace settlement.
During the Seym held in Bielsko in 1564, the King conferred the second statute on Lithuania, which exempted the citizens of Wilno as they came under the Magdeburg Right. In 1571, towards the end of this bountiful reign the land was visited by a terrible famine, which brought with it the pest. It lasted over a year and wiped out 20.000 people in Wilno alone.
Henryk Walezyusz did not reign long and was succeeded by the warrior, Stefan Batory, whose reign spanned 10 years but had no adverse effect on the material life of the citizens. Even if it was no longer the King’s constant capital, as it had been for August, it certainly did not loose any of its lustre. The King, in fact had no permanent capital as he spent half his life in camps, moving with the army or in battles defending the faith. Wilno’s history during Batory’s reign revolves around these last mentioned.
He visited Wilno for the first time in 1577 and on his next visit spent some time in the city whilst preparing for battle. In spite of the din from the armoury casting guns, regiment after regiment moving to Dzwin, the opposition of senators mainly non-Catholics, the King still found time to think and act in matters concerning the education of his people and founded the academy near the Jesuit College (Rostowski, Litvanicar. Societ. Jesu, I, 61; Albertrandy, Henr. Wal. and Stef., I, 294; Balinski, The Old Academy). Bishop Protasewicz, its first director, enriched it by founding the Waleryanski boarding school for impoverished students. Another enhancement was the student library housing books, which had belonged to Zygmunt August and which Lukasz Gornicki had taken care of in the castle (Bielinski Jozef, The State of Education in Lithuania, page 525). The Jesuits put much effort and energy into public instruction believing it to be the best means of eradicating the new reforms, which had fastened foot only thanks to the ignorance of the masses. It is for this reason that Batory encountered a flourishing academy on his way to Polock in 1579. During this time Tartar envoys were in Wilno offering support and Gotard Ketler, the Kurland Prince was paying homage.
That same year on his return journey from battle, the King confirmed some of the city’s privileges (Dubinski, l. c., 132). His third sojourn in the city in 1580 was also a memorable one when the Bishop of Samogitia, Giedroyc publicly offered Batory the sword and royal cap blessed and sent by Grzegorz XIII. The ceremony took place in the Cathedral and in the presence of the legate, Jan Andrzej Caligario (Kojalowicz, Miscellanea, 24, 25).
Kasper Bekiesz, an Arian, died in Wilno around this time and was buried on the hilltop by the Wilejka. The hill has been known as the Bekiesz Hill since then (Kraszewski, Wilno, I, 299). Grzegorz Oscik of noble stock was publicly executed having been found guilty of counterfeiting money and treason (Bielinski Jozef, Chreptowicz Dynasty manuscript 37). The year 1581 began with the establishment of the important and much needed Lithuanian tribunal.
In 1565, after the death of Mikolaj Radziwill Czarny, his son, known as Orphan, confiscated the house of worship from the followers of the Helvetia religion. In 1579, his cousin, father’s side, known as Redhead bought them a property in the vicinity of the Greek Orthodox Church Preczystej (Immaculate) from Hornostaj. At the same time the Calvinists began to hold services, opened a school and printing works just as they had done earlier. The Jesuits began to counteract but were stopped on 20 September 1581 by Batory in a message from his camp near Pskow (Lukaszewicz, The History of the Helvetia Religion in Lithuania).
King Stefan’ prudence helped him out of difficult situations caused by the introduction of the correct calendar in 1582. Followers of the Eastern rite did not want to accept it but Batory took them under his protection and suggested that appearances in court on Holy days not be obligatory for them (Dubinski, l. c., 149).
Different times came to pass during Zygmunt III’s reign. First and foremost there were the terrible famines of 1588 and 1589 followed by infectious diseases, which caused much suffering among the people. Zygmunt confirmed the city privileges during the coronation Seym and saw for the first time on his way to Rewel, the misery but did nothing to alleviate it (Dubinski, l. c.; Rostowski, l. c., book III, page 167). His thoughts were totally absorbed with religious matters. The unification of the Eastern and Catholic churches, verified during the Brzesk synod in 1590, was soon introduced in Wilno and the memorable union of the unwilling Orthodox followers with the Protestants under the leadership of Konstanty Ostrogski in 1590. The aim was to safeguard the religions and political laws governing heretics (Kraszewski, Wilno, I, 313, 408). From that moment on, there were continual religious wars causing public havoc and spreading general dissatisfaction. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, earlier given to the Unites, was reclaimed by the Greeks in 1607 and the decision verified by the tribunal. Zygmunt repealed the tribunal’s decision and gave the Unites their church back.
The Catholics and Protestants also remained stubborn and pursued heated arguments. The Jesuits, mighty orators and scholars fought back with the spoken and written word. Their leader and defender of the faith was Skarga, his opponent and equal, Wolan. The ensuing battle stirred many a mind and from this theological polemic many valuable literature evolved and adorned Wilno’s Polish literature. The Jesuits won and the reform fell, a reform, which had been a huge success throughout Lithuania where only one in a thousand gentry was a Catholic and a mere six Catholic parish churches remained in Samogitia. During this clash many printing works arose. Apart from the ones previously mentioned it is worth noting the remainder: Radziwill, later Jesuit, Majmonicz, Tymofiejewicz, Pietkiewicz, Kartzan, Kmita, Wolbramczyk, Ulryk and Salomon Sultzer and finally Wolan.
It was during this period that a famous scene, involving Zofia Olelkowicz, the last heiress of Prince Slupski, took place between Krzysztof Radziwill, Wilno voivode and Hieronim Chodkiewicz, Wilno Castellan. The incident could almost be seen as a forerunner of the upcoming unruliness of the country’s magnates (Naruszewicz, The Life of Chodkiewicz, I, 27, Mostowski’s edition).
In 1602 a dreadful plague befell Wilno and was followed in 1610 by a fire, which started behind the city walls, near St. Stefan’s Church. The strong winds dispersed the flames, which engulfed most of the city and after having destroyed 4700 houses and 10 churches they turned towards the castle. This ancient building, refurbished at the expense of the Jagiello family, was razed to the ground as was the Cathedral and only the St. Kazimierz Chapel was spared; even the bridge on the Wilia had begun to glow. Queen Konstancja, who was residing in the city at the time, and her ladies-in-waiting barely managed to escape the flames in boats; ultimately some of the ladies drowned. The tragedy left a deep wound so much so that it was described in many poignant lyrics (Balinski, The Former Academy, appendix). In spite of help provided by the wealthier citizens of past, it took the city a long time to get back on its feet. A few years later the unfortunate city was once again experiencing tragic times; in 1624 and 1625 almost one third of the population was lost to the pest and famine (Rostowski, l. c., page 303). These and less severe catastrophes, not mentioned, resulted in a government decision to implement new measures.
In 1600, uniform laws regarding order for all three jurisdictions were passed but were not so beneficial to the city as it came under all three. Apart from the three jurisdictions: castle or voivode, municipal, and bishop (Catholic) there were also those belonging to the Unite metropolitan and the Franciscans. The latter “back in Zygmunt August’s days ad propagationem fidei catholicae brought to Wilno their own wojt and court which were removed at some time in 1552” (Wilno public library, manuscript department, room B, cabinet 2, portfolio 202, document 81). As to the Unite metropolitan’s jurisdiction not much was known about it until recently when papers were found in the archives documenting, without doubt, its existence. A map of part of Wilno belonging to the Unite metropolitan’s jurisdiction can be found in the archives of the Troicki monastery. The copy of the original was attached to the 20 volumes published by the Wilno Archeological Commission. Owners of pubs had to close at half past 7 and extinguish fires; the City Hall was to be informed of the arrival of newcomers or suspiciously acting peoples; walking the streets at night, keeping of loose women, buying stolen wares was forbidden; stall holders were given specific days and places to do business; the buying of goods from passers by on the streets and town outskirts was disallowed. And finally, an agreement was reached whereby all agreed to help one another and to fight any fires in the future. Those who did not abide by the rules would be fined.
In 1603, according to the King’s recommendation, guilds for merchants and tanners were set up and in 1605 a recommendation was made that the gentry with houses pay the city taxes as they used to; toll was paid on the newly built bridges on the Wilenka. In 1610, 4 candidates instead of one were presented to the King for the wojt position and in 1611 exempted from conscription for 4 years. The city was, to a great extent, indebted to Jan Karol Chodkiewicz and Lew Sapieha for the new changes.
During Zygmunt III’s reign, church funds grew: St. Nikodem behind the Ostra Brama (sharp gate) was built from the contributions of the worshippers; the St. Klara nuns found a new and richly furnished home in the St. Michal’s Church and convent, which Lew Sapieha built on his grounds. Stefan Pac had St. Teresa’s Church built by the Ostra Brama in 1626 and Dubowicz, a town councillor, erected a convent nearby. The bare foot Carmelite order moved in and took care of the painting of Our Lady on the Ostra Brama. At that time it was not yet famous and did not draw attention.
It was not until the XIX century that Wilno historians began mentioning it. They do, however, believe it dates back to the V century as does Kraszewski. Narbutt and Sokolow, on the other hand, believe it was brought by Olgierd from Chersonez; and there are those who maintain it appeared in Wilno in the XIV century and has since been known for its miracles. The last explanation is highly unlikely bearing in mind that neither Kojalowicz nor Stebelski who, in past centuries, wrote about famous paintings in Lithuania never mention the Ostrabrama one. While heated arguments ensued from the differing opinions, Helena Bielinska’s paper appeared (A Few Words on the Painting and Chapel of Our Lady of Ostrabrama in Wilno, Krakow, 1892). Based on the results from an examination of the painting, Ms. Bielinska maintains it was painted on unprepared wood. From the artistic aspect, it is a professional piece of art in which the choice of articles, their positioning and technical setting have been most expertly carried out. An animal hair brush was used to apply the generous layers of paint. The light areas appear to have thicker layers of paint and in the shadowy parts and the face the paint has been applied less liberally. Bare wood is visible in many parts of Our Lady’s face, something which did not occur in older paintings, even in the XIV century, as dark and light areas were treated equally and the colours used ensured total coverage. The dress is crimson, the sleeves yellow, the coat navy blue and the lining green. The background is brownish. Having said this, Ms. Bielinska is of the opinion that the painting has all the characteristics of the post Rafael Italian School and so dates back to XVI century and was most likely painted in Wilno by some monk or other religious person who had occupied himself with paintings depicting religious scenes from this era. The assumption held by many that the painting is of Byzantine origin and was brought to Wilno by Olgierd does not withstand scientific examinations.
In 1604, the splendid St. Kazimierz Church was founded jointly by the King, Bishop Wojna and Lew Sapieha and was given over to the Jesuits (today St. Mikolaj Church). In 1622, Bishop Eustachy Wollowicz erected the St. Katarzyna Church for the Benedictine order. In 1632, Jerzy Chreptowicz, the Nowogrod voivode, had the Church of St. Filip and Jakub built in brick in Lukiszki for the Dominicans (Bielinski Jozef, The Chreptowicz family, manuscript 138) and Wojciech Chludzinski had the Church of All Saints built for the Carmelite order. Of all the splendid occasions to have taken place in Wilno during Zygmunt III’s reign, the most memorable one took place in 1604 when the body of the newly canonised St. Kazimierz was raised onto the altar. A description of the ceremony, according to old documents, was printed and published by the present Wilno principal, prelate Lipnicki (The Life, Miracles and Honour of St. Kazimierz, Wilno, 1858).
Wladyslaw IV’s reign (1632-1648) saw Wilno gradually lose its former glory and wealth. However, it did see many a superb occasion and was visited by innumerable foreign dignitaries, both of which were advantageous to the city. Wladyslaw enjoyed staying here and often spent longer periods of time with his large court seeing to important political matters. In 1633, after his coronation and the confirmation of the Wilno rights in the Seym (Dubinski, l. c., 193), Wladyslaw with Prince Jan Kazimierz arrived in Wilno at the head of the army on their way to battle in Smolensk. He spent two months in the Castle taking part in court sessions and hunting outings. It was during this stay on 20 July that Fryderyk Ketle, a Kurland Prince paid the King homage declaring his vassalage. The following day, the King took part in Lew Sapieha’s magnificent funeral in St. Michal’s Church. The sermon was held by Kazimierz Sarbiewski (Kognowicki, The Life of the Sapieha Family, I, 197). After signing the peace treaty Wiazm in 1634, Wladyslaw returned to Wilno and once again spent some time in the city. In 1636, his sojourn in Wilno lasted into the summer having begun on the 7 March. He was accompanied by Jan Kazimierz, Anna Katarzyna Konstancja, nuncio Philonardi, Spanish and Sedmiogrod envoys (Rostowski, l. c., 357). It was at this time that Capuchin Walerian Magni, a mediator agent of the Emperor’s court arranged a marriage, which soon came to fruition, between Wladyslaw IV with the archduchess Cecilia Renata. Wladyslaw’s longest stay took place in 1639 and began on 27 January when he arrived with Queen Cecilia.
His more important assignments included receiving envoys from Gdansk, investiture of Wilhelm Ketler in the Duchy of Kurland (Albrycht Radziwill, Diary, I, 391) and opening talks with Ludwik XIII regarding the release of the imprisoned Jan Kazimierz. From here he left for Baden accompanied by Maciej Lettow, a Wilno doctor. In 1642, in the presence of the Queen, a religious ceremony in honour of the martyr St. Jozafat was celebrated and was preceded by an inspection of the army on the outskirts of the city (Rostowski, l. c., 361). In 1643 he entertained the Belgian Prince Waldemar who was on his way to Moscow to arrange the marriage with tsarina Eudoksya. However these wonderfully happy days were followed by ones filled with much sorrow. In 1644, during a hunting expedition the Queen experienced a shock and as a result miscarried and died on 24 March in the castle (Kwiatkowski, Dzieje Wladyslaw IV, 278, 286). In 1648, the King spent a short time in Wilno showing his new wife, Ludwika Maria, the city. He spent his time in the duty of his land, taking part in court sessions and assuaging dissenting magnates (Kwiatkowski, l. c., 363). The Queen was impressed with Wilno. In spite of biting frost, their entry into the city on 19 March was surrounded with much pomp (Radziwill, l. c., II, 286). This was to be Wladyslaw’s last visit in his favourite capital. He died in Merecz on 4 May that same year and his heart was laid to rest in the royal chapel of St. Kazimierz. On 10 May 1861, thanks to Count Eustachy Tyszkiewicz, a monument of Wladyslaw IV was placed on the right hand side of the altar (Kirkor, Graves, 45). During his reign, the Wilno Jesuits moved the School of Philosophy from Polock to Wilno and integrated it into the academy. While Lew Sapieha was still marshal of the Lithuanian Court he added two departments, canon and civil law and brought in two professors from Ingolstadt (Balinski, The Former Academy).
In 1639, an incident with far reaching effects took place in Wilno. Some Piekarski or other began shooting, for fun or intentionally, at a painting on the church wall of St. Michal. On hearing the shots, which appeared to come from the Protestant Reformation Church, the pupils from the academy and the populace forced an entry and began to ransack it. A bloody battle ensued and could only be brought under control by the voivode foot soldiers and municipal guards. The King set up an investigation commission, which took till 1640 to reach a verdict. The Seym decided the Protestants were guilty and the church was moved to Zawalna Street outside the city where it still stands today. Balinski wrote about the case in the Wilno Weekly (1818, V). The Protestants took Piekarski to court in Grodno but the case was rejected. Instead the court asked him to swear that the act was carried out in fun and that no ill was intended (Kraszewski, Wilno, II, 109).
The academy students reacted differently; for some unknown reason they simply began to leave the town in hordes. Captain of the Horse, Osinski and 400 riflemen were sent after them and Osinski fell, too.
In 1635, during Wladyslaw IV reign, Bishop Abraham Wojna brought the Bonifratre brothers and settled them in the Church of the Holy Cross. Their appearance in the city saw an increase in the number of hospitals. Later in 1638 he had the Lateranansi cano settle in the Church of St. Peter in Antokol. That same year, Stefan Pac, the Lithuanian deputy Chancellor of the Treasury, and his wife founded the Church of St. Jozef with an adjacent convent for the bare-footed Carmelites. In 1647, Jakub Zalamaj founded a church and monastery in Zarzecze for the regular canonites de poenitentia (St. Bartlomiej).
This was certainly not a profitable time for Wilno. However, in 1633, it benefited from the more clearly defined Jewish trading regulations (they had been living in Lithuania since Witold’s reign) regarding Wilno merchants and permission to trade and live was restricted to specific streets, namely: from the Church of St. Nicholas to the Niemiecka Street; Jatkowa Street and Zydowska Street. From 1643, municipal employees were once again exempted from paying taxes on their houses (Dubinski, l. c., 203). In 1647, the city’s regular income sources were annotated and the dispensation thereof also; the guilds were obligated to carry out battle preparations and thanks to the efforts of Lord Mayor Jakub Gibel a brick bridge was erected on the Wilia, the Spaska Gate was built and the new Lutheran Church arose on the Niemiecka Street in place of the burnt one (Adamowicz, The Augsburg Church). The Warsaw Seym appointed resources for the continual upkeep of the Wilno armoury.
The new king, Jan Kazimierz, (1649 – 1669) found Wilno in the splendid state it had enjoyed during the reign of Zygmunt August when it was one of the most important cities of the north. In spite of the irregular architecture of the streets, the many nationalities and religious represented in this expansive city together with the numerous places of worship, palaces, manors, warehouses, education and charitable facilities gave it a royal air although it was no longer the capital. Its prosperity was, however, waning (Kojalowicz, the History of Lithuania, I, 264). This reign was doomed to undergo difficult times. War engulfed the entire country and no thought was given to security. The castles and fortification were abandoned, the soldiers badly equipped and dispersed. This could only mean the final collapse of the city and soon this came to pass.
Aleks Michalowicz’s massive army invaded most of Lithuania in 1654, arriving in Wilno on 10 August of the same year. Hetman Janusz Radziwill’s, weak division capitulated and was taken along with the castles, which Kazimierz Zeromski had defended. Although many of the richer citizens and religious escaped taking with them what they could, 25.000 people died when the city was besieged and the ensuing fire left nothing but ruins and ashes (Rudawski, History, Spasowicz’s Translation, II, I). The oncome of the pest prevented most of those who had survived from returning (Rostowski, l. c., 396). Prince Szachowski, who had been named voivode by Aleks, attempted to bring order back into the city; mayor and voivode court sessions took place; the city sent a delegation to the tsar requesting support (Kraszewski, Wilno, II, 120) and in spite of the terrible damages, the citizens were provided a certain amount of safety and security thanks to Szachowski’s mild rule. Soon however, even greater catastrophes befell the city. The tyrant Daniel Myszacki, who had taken over from the mild Szachowski, leader of the Ruthenian troops in both castles, was exasperated by the royal army ever hoping to regain the city. A terrible famine worsened the situation as people died on the streets or fought till death over a piece of bread. It was not until 1660 that the rampaging pest ceased, having erased more than half the remaining population from the face of the earth. However, the wars and their effects did not subside. Finally, just before Easter 1661, after two assaults, the Lithuanian hetman, Michal Pac managed to regain the city. The Ruthenian guards decided to continue defending the gates; realising their weak position they surrendered in spite of Myszacki’s desperate resistance. His actions cost him his life. (Rostowski, l. c., 413). To date we do not have detailed information of the 6-year occupation of Wilno by the Ruthenian army. According to Mr. Storozew, a delegate from Moscow to the IX archeological conference, the second volume of Moscow Acts has been prepared for publication. It will contain a series of acts pertaining to that particular incident in history namely, the administration of the city and country under Szachowski, documents relating to the war activities in Wilno County and records of the ministers’ conference in Wilno. These documents contai information given to the Moscow government by the Wilno voivode and the answers received.
After six long years Wilno was free but Jan Kazimierz could do little more for the ravaged city than release the people from their military duties. He was financially unable to help but the army, which had seen no pay for a long time began to demand recompense and unions appeared on the Royal and Lithuanian side. The latter was lead by Kazimierz Zeromski. Before the commission could reach a decision the emboldened soldiers killed their marshal Zeromski and hetman Gosiewski (Rostowski, l. c., 419).
Although the riots were brought under control, warring continued in Lithuania and the capital had to accommodate and upkeep the army and fear others as it did in August 1664 when officially entertaining Jan Kazimierz. He tried to overcome the problems beleaguering the city but his efforts were futile in face of the disorder around.
In 1663, the tribunal deputies were prohibited by the King from using brutal force on the citizens, forcefully seizing their houses and driving them out of their homes. In 1665, the army was reminded that their duties did not include the extrication of monies from the city or the demanding of donations. All of this did not help; merchants and tradesmen had to replenish the empty municipal coffers, a situation which continued until 1667. The accounts later showed that a balance had not been upheld in spite of the cash inflow because the municipal treasury was in an extremely bad state and needed help itself. The expenditure had been great. The city had had to provide food, accommodation, arms and ammunition for the Cossack army during the entire war and pay for the upkeep of the fortifications (Kraszewski, Wilno,, II, 137).
During the following short reign under King Michal, Wilno began slowly to awake from its lethargy and no events of importance occurred. Due to carelessness, the Calvinists lost their church and the neighbouring houses to a fire in 1670 (Naramowski, Facies rerum sarmatic., I, 58).
In 1676, during Jan III reign, Pawel Boym, the current wojt, lead the city delegates at the royal Seym where they presented their complaints and problems including the Jewish one. Their numbers in the inner city had increased significantly city so causing the Christian tradesmen and merchants insurmountable difficulties. The matter was resolved and in 1678 Wilno was, once again, on par with Krakow (Dubinski, 242-270).
The King visited the city for the first time in 1688 while on his return journey from the Grodno Seym, which had been cut short. The people greeted him with great pomp and joy as was appropriate for a victorious defender of the Christian faith. The city council met him outside the city and presented him with the city keys and 100 red-gold pieces. On passing through the Rudnicka Gate with Prince Jakub and his accompanying court and dignitaries, he continued through the market place onto the Pac Palace where he stayed, the castle being in ruins (Local Information, w. x. l., 41).
He was preceded by clerks, music and the Hungarian infantry and the people crowded the streets, windows and roofs. During his stay, he not only visited the newly-built churches and buildings but even those parts of the city in close proximity. In 30 years, Wilno had arisen from the ashes and, not only had it rebuilt the previously existing churches and monasteries, but had added new ones. The most important and most hallowed for Lithuania and its capital was Ostrabrama Chapel, built in 1674 specifically for the revered painting of Our Lady (Helena Bielinska, l. c., page 24). Apart from this well known chapel the Augustine eremites had their church built around 1677 on Sawicz Street (presently the Greek Orthodox of St. Andrzej); in 1678 the Dominican Convent adjacent to the Church of the Holy Ghost was erected by Aleksander Hilary Polubinski, a Lithuanian field writer (no longer exists); in 1685, the Missionaries who were introduced to Wilno by Kotowicz, the Bishop of Wilno and the brick-built Church of the Ascension on Saviour Hill outside the town was built by Teofil Plater.
This era experienced no foreign attacks but internal strife was becoming more and more evident in Lithuania in the second half of the XVII century as bickering magnates caused for internal turmoil. The XVI century had experienced tolerance and compliance with the laws, which were now being replaced by falsely interpreted fanaticism. Wilno was witness and stage to two events one of which left its mark on the historical map of the country during Jan III reign and the other offended the public morals. The first occurred in 1688 when Kazimierz Lyszczynski was imprisoned in the castle tower and later burned in Warsaw ( Przezdziecki’s and Malinowski’s Sources of History, II, 449; Naramowski, Facies, I, 123 and others); the second was the excommunication of Kazimierz Sapieha, Lithuanian hetman, in the Wilno Cathedral by the Bishop of Wilno, Konstanty Brzostowski (Narbut Justyn, Lithuanian Internal Affairs, 1-92; Kraszewski, Wilno, II, 66, 156).
In 1696 the army confederation was created and led by Oginski, who demanded back pay for the soldiers. A senators’ conference was called up for this purpose in August 1698. The army was, indeed, appeased when deactivated and each soldier received one year’s pay but this did not last long as the Sapieha family embittered the gentry by ignoring them. They gathered under the leadership of Wisniowiecki and a bloody battle ensued at Olkieniki (Malinowski, l. c.; Zaluski, Family Epistle II, 922).
The discord and turmoil were not conducive to the good of the city and little changed with August II accession to the throne in 1699 apart from the new privilege, which merely reinforced the old one. On 18 March 1700, a fire destroyed that part of the city from the castle to the city hall on the left and the population suffered because of the undisciplined soldiers, both Sapieha’s and the regulars. Amid such devastation Wilno was faced with the second Swedish war. In April 1702, Karol XII army entered the city having taken the city and its outskirts. The remaining divisions set up camp outside the city on the right bank of the Wilia and the headquarters were in Snipiszki (Zaluski, Epistle, III, 182). The Swedes short stay of one month cost the city 150.000 zlotys in money, ammunition and lead excluding the extra cost for the clergy (Kraszewski, Wilno, II, 82). During the entire duration of the long war, Wilno, as many other cities, was exposed to the constant coming and going of various armies and to the problems of war.
Among the important events to take place in this era was Peter the Great’s visit in 1705. He stayed in the Sluszki Palace on the Wilia (today a prison) and not only visited the city but also many of the more important institutions. He paid particular attention to the Jesuit College and monastery, took part in academic discussions and listened to both parties debating in the main tribunal (Internal Affairs, 41). Later, in 1708, Karol XII and Stanislaw Leszczynski paid the city a visit calling upon the senate council to draw up the points for an amnesty.
During August II reign there were the following church and charitable foundations; Roch monks, who were brought to Wilno by Bishop Brzostowski after 1700. They settled in a modest monastery by the Zamek Gate and ran a hospital for needy women and buried the poor. They did much to help mankind in the catastrophes which followed, namely in 1710 (Internal Information, 42). Today they no longer exist and in place of their monastery, there is the Cathedral Square, partially a garden. At the beginning of the XVIII century, Kazimierz Sapieha, Grand Hetman of Lithuanian, had the Trinitary order settle in Antokol near the Church of Jesus Christ (presently the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Michal in the army hospital); in 1717, the King himself founded the Wizytki Order along with Bishop Brzostowski whose heart was laid to rest in the convent church. This church is adorned with paintings by Czechowicz (presently a Greek Orthodox Church and convent). The Church of St. Rafal in Snipiszki was built, before 1709, by Michal Koszyc for the Jesuits and stood near their monastery. The Pijar order was the last to settle in Wilno and was also brought to the city by Bishop Brzostowski in 1722. Antoni Sapieha, the Mereck starost, greatly concerned about providing a better education in the country, spared no effort and funds on this order for this purpose. He gave the Order his palace on Dominican Street to be used as a college (presently a ladies’ high school). Konarski travelled from Warsaw to set the school up.
The XVIII century found Wilno as described above, with numerous new and renovated buildings but soon disasters were to befall it. They were so devastating that, in a very short time, there was little left over, of either buildings or people. The catastrophes were: fire, famine and the pest all results of warring and disorder. Barely had the population come to terms with the constant chaos of the war years, 1702- 1712, the coming and going of Swedish, Sas and allied armies and survived the latest fire, when on May 18 1706 noticed flames rising from the roof of the Church of St. Michal on Wielka Street (presently a Greek Orthodox church). It had set the wooden roofs alight and had travelled from the castle in the direction of the City Hall, had reached the Carmelite Church and turned that part of the City Hall which housed the oldest city documents into a pile of ashes and the booths, too. The painting of Our Lady of Ostrabrama was the only thing that survived as it had been placed in the church for safety.
The fire was nothing compared to the dreadful famine which followed in 1708 and which covered an area stretching from the boundaries of Samogitia all the way to Wilno. Ravenous people from all over the country started arriving in the city thus increasing the latter’s plight. They died in their thousands from the plague, a result of the famine and the provision of help was impeded by the war. The churches and charitable organisations were overtaxed. 30.000 Christians and 4.00 Jews, in the city itself, fell victim to the famine and plague, which rampaged until 1710. (Zaluski, Family Epistle, III; Naramowski, Facies rer. I, 164; Kraszewski, Wilno, II, 85). Cats and dogs were consumed and people even killed one another in desperation. Such was the devastating effect on the minds of the people that scenes depicting the anguish were painted on the cemetery walls near St. Peter’s Church (Frank, Memoires, III, 140).
On 26 May 1715, yet another fire destroyed a part of the city and the wooden chapel at the Ostrabrama. During the years following the Swedish war, the citizens of this once Jagiello capital spared no effort on rebuilding their homes, which, however, seemed only to provide kindling for the ensuing fires. A number of buildings were destroyed in the fire which occurred on 2 June 1737 including the following churches: ancient church with the Franciscan monastery, St. Jan’s and adjacent Jesuit college, St. Ignac’s with noviciate, Bonifrater’s, St. Mary’s and Magdalena’s, Roki’s , St. Kazimierz’s and the City hall. The Cathedral Church and chapels were also engulfed by flames a short time later on 21 March 1741.
The damage, although immense, was nothing compared to what was yet to come. As a result of past fires, the municipal authorities insisted the roofs be tiled and not wooden and that all precautions should be taken to avoid future fires. However before these strict instructions could be implemented an even greater fire broke out on 11 June 1748 in Zarzecze caused by “Jewish negligence.” Two thirds of the town, centre and north, were reduced to ashes in only 12 hours. A few thousand houses including 469 better-known ones and manors, 15 palaces, 12 churches of both denominations, 21 shops including a chemist’s and German library were razed to the ground. Two columns of fire joined forces thus creating a fire ball, which mercilessly devoured the city. Many smaller churches and monasteries were obliterated for ever (Jachimowicz Bazyl, Account of the Dreadful Fall of the Capital, Wilno). As if this was not enough, another massive fire broke out a year later and completely ruined what used to be Zygmunt August’s favourite capital. It began on 8 June 1749 in the Subocz suburbs and devastated the remaining third of the city (Jachimowicz, l. c.). The citizens were at a loss as to what to do and so they requested help and support from the convocation Seym. The streets were strewn with rubble for a very long time and many buildings, which had known splendid days, remained ruins for years. They included the Jagiello Castle, Radziwill Palace and the metropolitan Greek Orthodox Church of St. Spas. The years of peace during Stanislaw August’s reign and the animated trading with Krolewiec, which did much to improve the merchants and tradesmen’s lot, reversed the city’s miserable situation. New brick buildings appeared and old ones were refurbished. In 1777, thanks to monies from the chapter, Bishop Zienkowicz and his successor Massalsk,i work was begun by Gucewicz on the Cathedral Church. Likewise, in 1781 the City Hall was built according to Gucewicz’s plans and so the city slowly began to rise from its ruins. The renowned Poczobut became rector of the Jesuit Academy, which had been converted into the main school in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and an observatory was founded. These educational improvements drew people to the city (Balinski, The Former Academy; Bielinski Jozef, The State of Education at Wilno University).
Towards the end of Stanislaw August’s reign, Wilno had 32 Catholic churches and almost as many convents/monasteries, 10 palaces, excluding the castle, an academy, 2 large boarding schools for the gentry (Collegium nobelium), 2 priesthood colleges, 8 hospitals and 4 printing works. There were over 60.000 people living permanently in the city.
In Ancient Poland, III, 199, Balinski states that Lithuania’s history is anchored in three natural monuments: the three mountains in the Wilenka valley which oversee the city and embody the three main eras of development in Lithuania’s civilisation. Zamkowa, bearing the ruins of Giedymin’s castle and representing paganism; Lysa, with its three crosses representing Christianity’s sacrifice and triumph; Bekieszowa, with its tombs, a reminder of Europe’s might and culture. Today the crosses and the tombs no longer exist having slipped into the Wilenka during a landslide.
In 1788 the Ruthenian armies entered Wilno and in 1794, General Jasinski led the insurrection. On 01 June, the Ruthenian army led by Knoring and Zubow encircled Wilno which was under the command of General Mejen and by 31 July had captured it. Wilno County was governed by the Governor General, Repnin up until 30 November 1794 and on 14 December it became the guberniya city of the newly established Wilno guberniya. Stanislaw August last visited Wilno in 1795 and, on 3 February of that year, he and his entire court left for Petersburg. A few months later on 15 May, Emperor Pawel I arrived in Wilno and visited the educational facilities, saw the work being done on the Cathedral Church and donated a large sum of money for the completion of the church’s factory.
1802 saw Emperor Aleksander I arrival greeted with great pomp. The Catholic clergy awaited him at the Franciscan church and clerks and pupils at St. Jan’s. He visited charitable organisations, the Wizytki’s ladies boarding school, the university, educational facilities, library, observatory, theatre, and the City Hall, in front of which a feast was prepared for the citizens.
On 24 January 1803, an educational circle was founded and Prince Adam Czartoryski was named its curator. On 18 May, the main school was converted into a university with 4 faculties: physic-math, medical, moral and political sciences and fine art and literature. The university staff was made up of 1 rector, 4 deans, 32 professors and 12 tutors. It was granted 1.056.000 rs. annually for its upkeep and these funds were generated from post Jesuit properties (Balinski, The Former Academy, Appendix). In 1804, Ludwik XVIII, using the name Count de Lille, spent a few hours in Wilno whilst on his journey to Mitawa with 14 attendants. From 1797 until the dreadful happenings of 1812, Wilno had managed to partially recover. The outstanding professors showed the scholarly world what Wilno University was capable of. The population rose to 100.000 and the theatre, directed by Kazynski, was even applauded by foreigners when such popular actors as Boguslawski, Werowski, Kudlicz, Dmuszewski or Ledochowski appeared (Kirkor, A Guide). Wonderful balls, concerts and musical evenings took place frequently and were usually arranged by Professor Frank.
On 14 June 1812, Emperor Aleksander arrived in Wilno and on 23 June news arrived of Napoleon’s advance. The following day, the Emperor and his court left for Swiecian and the Ruthenian army followed leaving 70.000 soldiers in the city. When the French army arrived, Barkley de Tolli had the Zielony Bridge burned and the warehouses destroyed in fear of being cut off from the left and right wings. They returned to Niemenczyn. On 28 June, the municipal council with a separate deputation led by Lachnicki, set off with the keys to meet Napoleon in the Ponarski mountains. After a short stay in the bishop’s palace (today belongs to the governor general), Napoleon headed for the banks of the Wilia and insisted it be spanned. The following day, he visited the city on horseback and spent the afternoon entertaining the gentry and clergy and on 30 June the university administration and all the professors. On 1 July, a main administration was set up and the leadership was selected by Baron Hogendorp, the Lithuanian governor during the war and Baron Bignon was the commissioner representing Napoleon. Members included Count Jozef Sierakowski, Aleksander Sapieha, Franciszek Jelski, Jan Sniadecki and the secretary was the cupbearer Kossakowski (Balinski, Jan Sniadecki’ Memoires). On 4 July, Napoleon met the new board and shared information with the members. He then met the city’s more prominent families and finally attended a ball in his honour given by Pac in his palace. He was constantly visited by delegations and emissaries e.g. General Balaszow from the Ruthenian court (his negotiations remained unheeded) or the Serbian Prince Milosz. Every Sunday, he attended Mass, celebrated by Bishop Kundzicz in the Cathedral Church. He presented the Bishop with an expensive ring and his assisting clergy 300 napoleonders. Danilowicz, the editor of the Lithuanian Courier being particularly trustworthy was made head of police. This interesting character is portrayed by Kirkor in “Memories of Wilno.” Napoleon left for Swiecian on 16 July and Prince Bassano, General Hogendorp, Baron Jomini, Baron Bignon and the remaining diplomatic corps, the Turkish and Swedish envoys stayed behind in Wilno, which became an important strategic point. Provisions were brought here from all over Lithuania and massive warehouses were opened. Beds for 6000 patients were allocated in the medical clinic, school, Bazyl monastery, St. Ignacy Barracks, Pijarski monastery, the main seminary and charity home and outside the city in Werki and Zakrecie. Oudinot’s and Saint Cyr’s troops remained to protect the city.
The main administration was aware of all the guberniya committees and the Lithuanian governor general, Hogendorp, General Jomini and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Prince Bassano all played an important role in it (Lithuanian Courier July 1812 edition). Each guberniya town received a prefect and each county a vice-prefect. County gendarmeries were established. Commissary de Van had already begun compiling a list of the treasury’s assets and the names of those who had left the country apparently not trusting Napoleon’s optimism. He had left half a million francs in Wilno and an additional 40.000rs. were collected from private individuals. The entire sum was used up by the main administration. Eyssymont, the former Wilno Treasurer, was in charge of the monies. A separate commission administering the provisions, warehouses and hospitals remained in the hands of Baron Nicolaiand. Its members included Adam Chreptowicz and Ferdynand Plater.
After the second battle of Polock on 6 and 7 September, a part of Napoleon’s army under General Wrede retreated to Glebokie (Dziesinski County) to shield Wilno but Prince Witgenstein prevented it from joining forces with Napoleon’s army, which at the time was in Orsza. On 23 October, after having crossed the Berezyna and having left Muratow in charge, Bonaparte, with 2 of his favorite aides, dashed from Smorgon to Kowno by sledge in temperatures reaching minus 28 C. He only stopped in Wilno to change horses and so, on the morning of 26 November, after only five and a half months in Russia he had crossed the border. Hordes of totally exhausted soldiers dragged themselves in the direction of Wilno having earlier faced Witgenstein, Platow, Borozdin and Czaplic, who had given them a hard time in battles at Molodeczna, Smorgoniami and Oszmiana. 20.000 French died on the way between Smorgonia and Wilno and the remaining 60.000, on arrival in the city, ransacked the hospital warehouses in search of food. Terrible diseases developed, turning Wilno into a hospital. In the city itself, more than 15.000 French soldiers struggled with death and the remainder went to Kowno over the Ponarskie Mountains. They lost to Platow in the ensuing battle and had to leave most of their artillery, army camp and money behind.
On 28 November, Czaplic arrived in Wilno from Oszmiany and Kutuzow and Borozdin from Niemenczyn and Czerwony Dwor and took the city without much opposition. On 30 November, Field Marshal Kutuzow entered the city in which he had twice been the Governor General (1800 1801 and 1811). On hearing that Kutuzow had taken the city, Emperor Aleksander arrived in person on 11 December and signed a manifestation promising a general amnesty and disregard of past happenings (Balinski, Diaries about Jan Sniadecki, ibid). Eye witnesses told of over 5000 French buried in Antokol as a result of cold, hunger and wounds. In January 1813, after the onset of the thaws, around a thousand corpses were collected from hospitals and courtyards and burned behind the suburb Snipiszki. According to professor Becu, this prevented an outbreak of the pest; however the contrary was true. The stench arising from the burning bodies brought about high temperatures among the people and subsequent death. Thereafter, it was decided to bury the dead. A large number of dogs appeared on the outskirts and began attacking the population having earlier an easier time with the corpses. Something had to be done. It is impossible not to mention one appalling event, which could scarcely be believed if it had not been witnessed by the creditable professor Frank. Frank had opened an anatomy-pathology practice and when the French arrived and seized the hospital buildings, they took great care of his facility and patients. However, when the French retreated, the hospital and its patients were forgotten. They, in turn, faced hunger and starvation and consumed the specimens and drank the alcohol in which they were conserved. There were cases where the patients were caught eating their dead inmates and corpses having died whilst eating other dead (Balinski Jozef, The State of Medicine. page 179).
In 1828, the university celebrated its 250 anniversary and to commemorate this day, the sculptor, Count Tolstoj created a medal. On the one side were the busts of Stefan Batory (founder) and Aleksander I (restorer) and on the reverse Mikolaj I during whose reign the event took place. The university was then closed after 254 years. That same year the Emperor ordered the Lithuanian Statute, announced by Lew Sapieha in 1588 and in the White Russian language, be translated into Ruthenian and published in three languages; Ruthenian, Polish and White Russian. In 1831 Wilno was visited by the pest, which lasted from April to December. Jedrzej Sniadecki remained president of the medical support committee.
During the happenings of 1831, Chrapowicki was the Governor General; the leaders of the army in Wilno and surrounds were the generals; Count Tolstoj, Count Kuruta, Saken, Sulima, Chilkow and others (Lithuanian Courier). In the middle of September, Chrapowicki was relegated and Prince Mikolaj Dolhoruki, an understanding and humane man, took over.
On 1 May 1832, the university was closed and the medical and theology faculties were turned into an academy; medi- chirurg and clerical. The former was closed in 1842 as per the power of the ukase of 30 December 1841 and the latter was transferred to Petersburg in August 1842. The clerical academy opened, as per the power of the ukase of 1 July 1833, in the former main seminary which existed during the university days (church of the Augustines). The rector was Father Alojzy Osinski, the mitred prelate. He was followed by Father Antoni Fijalkowski, the later Mohylew metropolitan. After being moved to Petersburg, the rector was Ignacy Holowinski, professor at Kiew University and also the metropolitan later. In 1834, a boarding school for the gentry was opened and in 1838 transformed into an institution for the gentry, which existed until 1864. In 1837, Emperor Mikolaj visited Wilno.
On 12 February 1839, the Greek Unicki clergy signed a document uniting them with the Greek Orthodox Church. The document was presented at the Synod and according to its resolution the Emperor ordered the two churches unite. This took place on 30 March and on 23 July it was made publicly known according to the Senate’s ukase. The first Lithuanian archbishop was Jozef Siemaszka, a Lithuanian Unicki bishop. The newly elected archbishop consecrated the St. Mikolaj Church, previously St. Kazimierz, on 8 September 1840. In 1889 Wilno celebrated the 50th. anniversary of the abolition of the union, which the Wilno archeographic commission honoured with a special publication containing all material pertinent to the union which had been gathered during the current century. On 25 July 1849, the Lithuanian Statute was replaced by the Russian civil law. Wilno suffered financial losses when the Kowno guberniya was formed in 1843. It lost its richest counties: Wilkomierz, Poniewiesz, Telszew, Nowo Aleksandrow (former Braslaw), Rossien and Kowno. In return it received the counties: Wilej and Dziesin from the Minsk Guberniya and County Lidz from the Grodno one. On 24 June 1848 cholera broke out in Wilno and lasted till 15 November; 490 of the 2055 affected died. On 9 January 1849 Father Waclaw Zylinski took over the Wilno bishopric, which had been vacant since the death of Andrzej Klagiewicz on 27 December 1841.
On 2 April 1852 the central archives holding the documents of the western guberniya were founded. On 29 April 1855 Emperor Aleksander II passed a bill permitting the founding of a museum of antiques and an archeological commission. Count Eustachy Tyszkiewicz was the founder of the above. The government assigned the post university building for this purpose. The actual museum was in the aula, where the Wilno University public meetings took place. It is approximately 24 metros long and 11 meters wide. At the centre of the beautiful vaulted ceiling, embellished in gold, was Smuglewicz’s oil painting portraying Minerva on Mount Olympia placing laurels on the heads of the erudite as they enter the Temple of Fame. Other paintings by the same artist can be found around it: a genius of fame proclaims the merits of the learned; work and diligence prepare laurels for the erudite; shield of wisdom protects those dedicated to learning. An allegorical painting depicting two angels and a skull hung above the entrance. The semi-arc shaped cornices descended down the walls and were embossed with the busts of the sages: Heraclites, Aristotle, Euripides, Diogenes, Homer, Plato, Archimedes and others (plate issued by Tyszkiewicz). Today the room is furnished in the Ruthenian style. The library was downstairs in the two adjoining rooms and in the three upstairs were the departments of; ornithology, zoology, mineralogy and an ethnological collection. The aula was used to exhibit antiques, the private property of Count Tyszkiewicz, as well as a collection of more than 2000 medals and coins (the majority from the university collection and those given by Michal Tyszkiewicz) and more than 1000 plates, copper sheets and woodprints. Moreover, a large collection of dissertations, manuscripts and autographs; a library holding 3000 volumes, dealing with ancient history and history presented by Count Eustachy Tyszkiewicz; 7000 books from the libraries of closed monasteries and convents; and finally souvenirs and curios.
On 1 January 1856 the museum was opened to the public; the first meeting of the archeological association took place on 11 January and on 17 April the museum was officially opened. The archeological association was made up of the president, curator (life-long position) Count Tyszkiewicz appointed by the Empreror, vice president, Michal Balinski, secretary, Maurycy Kruppowicz, 75 actual members, 55 honorary, and 45 associates. More details about the collection and the museum’s publications can be found in The Large Illustrated Encyclopedia (IV, 633-638).
On 24 June 1855 the Evangelical-Lutheran Church celebrated 300 years of its existence in Wilno. A special medal was created for this occasion and a church chronicle was written by professor Adamowicz.
On the strength of the Emperor’s promissory note of 20 November 1857 and in the name of the Governor General Nazimow, a gentry committee was founded in Wilno on 19 February 1858. Its purpose was to ensure the peasants’ release from serfdom. The gentry from the Wilno guberniya were one of the first to inform the throne of their willingness to abolish serfdom and were publicly thanked by Emperor Aleksander during his visit to the city in September 1858. New administrative organs were set up to implement the new law and were headed by important public figures who, in turn, had a good understanding of the basic idea behind the law and applied it conscientiously. The Emperor officially expressed his sheer satisfaction of their work to the Wilno and Kowno committees on 23 June 1861.
Work on the Petersburg-Warsaw railway, which went beyond the boundary to Kowno, began in the vicinity of Wilno on 15 May 1858. The first train from Dyneburg arrived in Wilno on 4 September 1860. The Wilno to Petersburg and Kowno railway line was finally opened on 15 March 1862 and from Wilno to Warsaw on 6 September 1862.
Based on the statutes of 16 June 1870 for Ruthenian cities, Wilno obtained an elective administration and the town council was opened on 28 July 1876.
According to the treasury documents from 1766, the Wilno Castle starostwo or ciwunostwo encompassed the city of Wilno and the properties: Niemenczyn, Giejan, Swiecian, Lingmian and Uzwent. At the time, they were in the possession of Jozef Tyszkiewicz, who paid 6675 zlotys and 17 groszy “fourth” army tax and 3118 zlotys army winter tax. According to the country’s law, the Wilno starosta was always the Wilno voivode.
Wilno coat-of-arms. The ancient coat-of-arms depicted a person crossing water with another sitting on his shoulders. The inscription around: Sigillum civitatis Vilnensis. Anno VII urbi conditae institutum. According to Narbutt (History of the Lithuanian Nation, I, 408, table VII, fig. 40) the coat-of-arms shows the giant Alcis, who was later transformed into St. Christopher. Kraszewski (Wilno, III, 377), polemising with Narbutt maintains the figure is St. Christopher, who was very popular at the time and it was the most natural thing to do, to chose him as the city’s patron. Furthermore, Kraszewski states that the main reason for the choice was that St. Christopher was popular with both the Greek and Latin people. Seals were not in use, the coat-of arms was unknown and towns did not have patrons at the time of Alcisa’s popularity. That seal was used by the town council and is not mentioned by the chronicle. Lelewel sees its adherence to the Jagiello pillars (bibliography Book Two, I, 80) and Paprocki associates it with the Pogons and the entire Grand Duchy of Lithuania (The Nest, page 1226). The coat-of-arms depicting St. Christopher was used up until the Magdeburg Right was revoked last century. Today, Wilno and the entire guberniya use the Pogon coat-of-arms. It portrays a rider on a white horse against a red background riding to the right, a sword in one hand and a shield with a double cross in the other. Apparently this coat-of-arms was used as far back as the XIII century. Niesiecki believes it was created by Narymundow around 1280 (Baronage, I, 9, published by Bobrowicz). The cross on the shield is undoubtedly a later addition when Christianity was introduced (Niesiecki, l. c., 10). Some even believe and probably rightly so that the double cross is the coat-of-arms of the Hungarian Jadwiga, wife of Wladyslaw Jagiello (Kirkor, A Guide to Wilno, 2 edition, page 85). Piekosinski (The Gentry’s Dynastical Background, 81, 88) writes that the double cross served the Polish kings; the grand Duchy of Lithuania used the Jagiello pillars.
Bibliography. To complete the picture I am listing a number of sources used, in alphabetical order: L’Acte de confirmation de l’Universite imperiale de Vilna 1803, Adamowicz: The Augsburg Church in Wilno (1855), Documents published by the Wilno Commission dismantling previous ones (t. I-XX), Archeograf Sborn: (t. 1-10). Wilno Photo Album published by Zawadzki (1894), Balinski Michal: The Former Academy (1862), The History of the City of Wilno (2 volumes, 1836), Statistical Description of Wilno (1835), Jan Sniadecki: Memoirs (2 volumes, 1865), Wilno (in volume 3 of Ancient Poland), Bielinska Helena: The Chapel and Ostrabrama Painting in Wilno (1892), Bielinski Jozef: The Emperor’s Association of Wilno Doctors (1889), Wilno newspapers (in Warsaw Bibliographical News 1883-1885), Wilno Graduate Doctors of Medicine (1886), The State of Medical Teaching in Lithuania (1888), The State of Physio-mathematical Teaching in Lithuania (1889), Burzynski S: Academia et Universitas Vilnensis (1738) Dobrianskij Katalog predm. Muzea drewn. (1885), Putjewod in Wilno (1878), Dubinski Piotr: A Collection of the Laws and Privileges bestowed upon the Capital Wilno (1788), Homolicki Michal: a number of articles pertaining to Wilno, its places of worship, especially St. Kazimierz Cathedral and Chapel in pictures and academic debates, (1834-43),The Anniversary of the Lithuanian Greek Orthodox Seminary (1878), Kirkor A: The Lithuanian Basilica, (1886), The Graves of Grand Princes and Princesses of Wilno (1882), Istoriko-statisticzeskije oczerki (1852, 1853, 1858), Lithuania and White Russia (3 volumes of Zywopisnoj Rossii), Strolling through Wilno (1857, 1859), A Guide to Wilno (1862, 1880, 1889), Kojalowicz Wijuk: Historiae Litvanae, 2 volumes (1650 and 1669), Miscellanea rerum, ad statum eclesiasticum (1650), Korotynski Wincenty: Wilno (Orgelbrand’s Encyclopedia XXVII), Kraszewski J: Ostrabrama (The Altar, 1859), Wilno (4 volumes, 1836, 1839-42), Lipnicki Augustyn: St. Stanislaw Cathedral in Wilno (manuscript), The Life of St. Kazimierz (1858), Murawjew: Russkaja Wilna (1867), Naramowski Adam: Facies rerum sarmaticarum (2 volumes, 1727), Pamiatnyje knizki wilenskiej gubernii za wiele lat, Przyjalgowski: The Lives of the Wilno Bishops (3 volumes, 1861), Rolewicz J. M: Information on Miraculous Paintings….in Wilno (1863), Salkind Wilhelm: Opyt medico-topograficzeskawo opisania goroda Wilny (1891), Smiarkowski Remigian: The Mystical Fountain gushing from the Painting of Our Lady in Lukiszki (1737), Swiatyje wilenskije muczeniki (1883), Stebelski Ignacy; Two Burning Lights (1781), Wilenskoje Swiato-troickoje prezdje swiato-duchowskoje bractwo (1876), The Weekly Illustrated published numerous pictures of churches and buildings with descriptions.
Source: Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1893, vol. 13, pp.492-496]
This translation, by Jola Jurasinska, is used by permission.
In addition to the information in the article Lithuanian Voivodeships here is a list of the Wilno voivodes and castellans: 1) Hanul, Wilno starost 1385; 2) Gasztold Andrzej 1387; 3) Minigajlo 1393; 4) Moniwid Wojciech, 1396-1412 Wilno starost and 1413-1424 Wilno voivode; 5) Gedygold Jerzy 1426-1432; 60 Dowgerd Jan…
Source: Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1893, vol. 13, pp.496-]
This translation, by Jola Jurasinska, is used by permission.