(also Vytautas). Born 1350; died 1430. Grand prince of Lithuania from 1392. Son of Keistut.
After the union of Lithuania with Poland in 1385, Vitovt, supported by Lithuanian and Russian boyars living in the Russian regions of Lithuania, fought for Lithuania’s independence from Poland. He won the Polish king Jagello’s recognition as grand prince of Lithuania with the rights of a vicegerent. Obstructing the unification policy of the Muscovite princes, Vitovt concluded treaties with the princes of Tver’ (1427), Riazan’ (1430), and Pronsk (1430), who were hostile to Moscow. In 1404 he seized Smolensk, and he intervened in the affairs of Novgorod and Pskov. During 1406-08, he violated the borders of the Muscovite principality three times.
Under Vitovt, Lithuanian possessions extended to the upper reaches of the Oka River and to Mozhaisk. He took southern Podolia from the Tatars, extended his domains to the Black Sea, and fought stubbornly against the Teutonic Knights. Vitovt and Jagello were the organizers of the defeat of the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grünwald in 1410. In 1422, Vitovt made Żemaitija part of Lithuania again. (It had been seized by the Teutonic Knights in 1398.) Supported by his servitors, he tried to eliminate Gedyminas’ appanage princes in Rus’ and replace them with his vicegerents. Vitovt’s abolition of local principalities in Podolia, Kiev, Vitebsk, and other places enhanced the political importance of the Lithuanian boyars.
REFERENCESLiubavskii, M. K. Ocherk istorii Litovsko-Russkogo gosudarstva. Moscow, 1910.
Pashuto, V. T. Obrazovanie Litovskogo gosudarstva. Moscow, 1959.
Lietuvos TSR istorija, vol. 1. Vilnius, 1957.