Formation and Transformations of Dynastic Ties between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland
LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, Volume 56, No.3 – Fall (2010)
The first six hundred years of the Lithuanian state are marked by its centuries-long relationship with Poland, known to history as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The dynastic link began in 1386 with the marriage of Lithuania‘s Grand Duke Jogaila to Jadvyga of Anjou, heiress to the throne of Poland, thus assuming the Polish throne and henceforth known by his Christian name Wladyslaw Jagiełło. In Polish historiography, the marriage act, known as the Act of Krėva (Krewo), was interpreted as signifying a union which incorporated Lithuania into Poland. In recent Lithuanian scholarship, however, the Krėva Act is viewed as the ratification of a marriage contract rather than an international treaty constituting a union. The author introduces latest research on this subject and discusses subsequent treaties and agreements which illustrate the complex nature of this dynastic link and increasingly divergent interests of the two states which were both partners and rivals. Placing the dynastic union of Jogaila and Jadvyga into a European context, the author also introduces the term “composite monarchy,” the joining of two autonomous states under the same ruler, a concept new to Polish-Lithuanian historiography. The need to resolve the question of union did not become an issue until the power of the Gediminian-Jagiełłonian dynasty began to wane.