In his numerous works, in particular in Dzieje starozytne narodu litewskiego (Wilno, 1835-1841), Teodor Narbutt often referred to the Chronicle of Rivius, which he claimed to have found in Revel (Tallinn). Now the original (German) version of the Chronicle and its Polish translation are kept at the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. According to Narbutt, the Chronicle, which is to be dated back to 1697, contains fragments of Rotundus’ Lithuanian history, lost long ago. Rotundus, in his turn, must have possessed an analogue close to the Chronicle of Bychowiec, possibly based on the annals of a certain Pinsk monk Mitrofan. Unfortunately, the most important part of the Chronicle was lost in a fire in Narbutt’ s house. Due to many inconsistencies in the presentation of the biography of Rivius, fanciful descriptions of historical events, factual and chronological fallacies and drawings of various fictitious artefacts, allegedly related to the history of Lithuania, investigators have been treating the Chronicle of Rivius as a forgery initiated or produced by Narbutt. Without dismissing the Chronicle outright, though seriously doubting its authenticity as a historical record, the author of this article calls for a more thorough critical research of its provenance.
Scarce sources of the past of Sudovia (Sūduva, Yatvingian lands) clearly reveal several episodes illustrating relations between the inhabitants of the area and the Lithuanians. They witness a much more complex paradigm of political communication between these groups than might be expected. When Mindaugas started to strengthen his rule in Lithuania, Lithuanian ‘indifference’ to the Yatvingians disappeared. At the beginning of the 1240s Mindaugas was becoming a genuine, rather than a nominal ruler of part of Sudovia, at least of its northeast. However, the strife, which began in 1246 between Mindaugas and the Yatvingians and lasted nearly the entire period of his rule, conditioned enormous concessions made by the king of Lithuania to the Teutonic Order in Sudovia. When the war against the Christians was taken over by Treniota in 1261, the struggle of the Yatvingians (and the Prussians) against the Crusaders became more intensive. These were good signs indicating the beginning Lithuania’s support for the Yatvingians. The character of Treniota’s relations with the Yatvingians conformed to the political situation and traditions established by his predecessors, first and foremost, by Mindaugas. All that weakened the support of the Lithuanian monarch to Yatvingian anti-Teutonic resistance, despite the relentless advance of the Order’s military machine towards Lithuania’s borders. The Lithuanian ruler did not maintain any political contacts with the Order, but being in its neighbourhood he acquired friends.
The status of the Ruthenian language and use of Lithuanian in public life in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (henceforth GDL) remains one of the most hotly debated topics in Lithuanian historiography. In this article, the use of Ruthenian (early Belarusian) is analysed as the official (‘state’) language of the GDL, as it is presented in the latest works by Belarusian and Polish researchers and Lithuanian language studies researchers. This analysis looks at the problems that arise when examining the flexible and extraordinarily dynamic use and interrelation of languages in the GDL in the 15th–16th centuries, which changed every few decades and was based more on customs and traditions than laws.