Minsk History:
The Early Years of the Grand Duchy

Little is known of the history of the city under the early Grand Duke Vajszelak(d. 1269), Trojdzen(1271 - 1282), and Lutaver (1282 - 1295). In 1323, during the reign of Hedymin (1316 - 1341), the capital of the Grand Duchy was moved from the Navahrudak to Vilnia.

The Kinf of Poland and Grand Duke Jahajla

The fact that Prince Jaunut Hedyminavicz received from the Grand Duke Kejstut the principality of Zaslaue, and reigned in Minsk in 1345, where he was succeeded his son Michal, suggests that the city was by then a royal suzerainty. Prince Michal was present at the coronation in 1386 of Grand Duke Jahajla as King of Poland in Krakow, and gave his oath of allegiance "for himself and his own". In 1390 Jahajla endowed a Catholic Church in Minsk dedicated to the Holy Trinity and Ascension of Our Lady, perhaps in part performance of his written bond on his marriage in 1389 to Queen Jadviha of Poland, to establish Latic-rite Catholicism in his domains; its site in the city is not known, and the wooded building is reputed to have been destroyed by fire in 1409. Many of the suzerains of the Russian principalities to the east of Smalensk, anxious for protection against Moscow -- now reduced to a state of Tatar satrapy, -- sought alliance or union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, so that soon the Grand Duke Alhierd(1345 - 1377) acquired the title of Rex Litvinorum Ruthenorumque, with domains stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

The Grand Duke Vitaut

Union did not imply subservience however; and it is noted by Syrakomla that the banner of Minsk was not among the united army of Lithuanians, Belarusians, and Poles, who under Grand Duke Vitaut(1392 - 1430) defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Gruenwald in 1410. The city had sided with Grand Duke Svidrihajla in a dynastic dispute against Grand Duke Hedymin, and Prince Urustaj of Minsk appeared in 1408, as a witness to a Treaty of mutual aid signed by Svidrihajla and the Grand Duke Basil of Moscow. The establishment of Minsk as a Namiesnictva(Royal Shire) coincided with the absence, noted by Syrakomla, of the city's seal from the Charter of Horadla in that year, -- though few other noblemen of the Greek rite were present at the conference. Thereafter the city appears to have been governed by a namiesnik of Sheriff representing the Grand Ducal authority as hereditary Prince of Zaslaue. This might indicate that Minsk had declined in importance since the Mongol invasions, the sack of Kiev, and the growing threat to the Black Sea trade from the advancing Turks. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the subjection of Crimean Tatars to Ottoman rule in 1475, were to have far reaching effects on the economic, political, and religious life in Minsk, and indeed of the whole Grand Duchy.

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