Lithuanian Metrika is a 556 volume archive of documents of the State Chancellery of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) which was under the personal control of the Chanceller of the GDL. This archive contained originals and copies of all documents issued in a period from 1386 to 1794 by the State Chancellery.

This is undoubtedly the biggest European state archive of this period. Lithuanian Metrika was recorded in 556 volumes (Folio's). This is obviously the most valuable historical source of Belarusian and Lithuanian nations. All state decisions during 4 centuries of GDL existence are recorded in detail in Lithuanian Metrika.

Before XVI c. Metrika was guarded in the castle of Troki (Trakaj). At the end of XVI c. it was transported to Vil'na (Vilnius) and at last in XVIII c. it was transported to Warsaw. A part of documents about the property of dukes Radzivil appeared in Nyasvizh archive which has been burned during WWI. Another part was taken by the army of Swedish King in 1655. In 1794 after the Russian army has occupied Warsaw, among other precious things Metrika of GDL was taken to St. Petersburg.

It was during the stay of Metrika in Vil'na (1594) the Chancellor Leu Sapega has worked out a reester (list) of documents composing Lithuanian Metrika. All it's books were copied (rewritten) at this time. After the transfer of Metrika to Warsaw polish historian Narushevich has added the old reestr with new, written in Polish. Moreover all old documents written in Belarusian were rewritten in Polish. There were 29 rewritten volumes covering a period from 1386 to 1551. These 29 volumes were still in Main Warsaw Archive before WWII. In St. Petersburg Katherine II has created a special commission to categorize and list documents of captured Lithuanian Metrika. This commission has divided documents of Metrika into two categories: internal affairs and foreign affairs. The first were given to the State Council and transferred into Moscow Archive of the Ministry of Justice. The second part was transferred to the Collegium of Foreign Affairs, and later to the Central Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow. A part of the most important documents ended up in the Manuscript Divisions of the Public Library in St. Petersburg and also into Rumyancev Museum in Moscow.

Thus the priceless monuments of Belarusian, Lithuanian and polish history were scattered and destroyed by our conquerors. Many of the documents were simply lost during transfers.

Only part of the documents was reprinted. Such most of the documents was reprinted by the Imperial Archeographic Commission. The Acts of Lithuanian Metrika were reprinted in following publications:

1 "Akty, otnosyaschiesya k istorii Zapadnoj Rusi", ed.: I.I. Grygorovich

2 "Akty, otnosyaschiesya k istorii Yuzhnoj i Zapadnoj Rusi", ed.: Kastamarov

3 "Rossijskaya istoricheskaya biblioteka", vv. XVII, XX, XXX, XXXII.

4 "Letopis' rabot Archeograficheskoj Komissii" has also published many documents of Metrika.

5 Part of the documents of Lithuanian Metrika was reprinted in Warsaw University in edition of Prof. F.I. Leantovich, according the copies in Warsaw archive.

6 "In 1840 there was published in Warsaw a detailed description of Warsaw Archive by Bandtke and Gerbart.

7 A group of documents was published by M. Obolenskij in: "Rossijski Istoricheskij Sbornik" 1838, vol. 1 and others.

8 In 1883 in St. Petersburg the Volume 1 of Lithuanian Metrika was printed by Zemvyarovich.

9 Around 1920 a group of documents was published by "Moskovskoe Tovarischestvo Istorii i Drevnostej Rossijskih" edited by M. Dounar-Zapol'ski. These documents mainly cover economical matters for the period of 1400 - 1529. This is the only thorough edition that has copied letter to letter original documents. The rest of the reprints above was done in Russian and was significantly modified during translation.

10 "Chronologicheskij ukazatel' dokumentov, hranyaschihsya b Litovskoj Metrike za vremya s 1511 po 1749 g." by Korsak.

11 Some documents of Metrika were reprinted in Polish in L'vov by L.A. Prohaska and in Krakow by F. Radzishewski.

    Where are the documents of Lithuanian Metrika now?

    This must be a question that every Belarusian, Lithuanian and Pole should ask. The most valuable source of our national identity, our cultural heritage is stolen and hidden from us. Our history has been replaced, our historical monuments destroyed. This is all part of the Imperial master plan to turn Belarus into North-Western Territory with "Belarusian Dialect". The latest political events in Belarus show that Russia was pretty successful in digesting our national identity. Only reclaiming our heritage back can revive our national pride. Only through learning our rich history we can understand who we are and where are we going to. Only on this path we can find power to stand up as an independent European nation again.

    April 17, 2000.  We are happy to announce that the international program for the study and publication of the GDL Metrica has been formed recently. 28 volumes of Lithuanian Metrika covering the history of GDL from its creation to 1552 has been already published. Below is the letter of Mr. Aleh Dziarnovich - a coordinator of the Lithuanian Metrika International Project: published recently in Belarus e-mail list.

    Lithuanian Metrica (Book 28)
    April 12, 2000

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am pleased to inform you that the Belarusian publishing house ATHENAEUM has just published Book 28 of the Metrica of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Lithuanian Metrica). This book is the first Belarusian publication within the framework of the international program for the study and publication of the GDL Metrica. The work was prepared at the Institute of History of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences by the historian Valery Mianzhynski and philologist Uladzimir Sviazhynski. Book 28 of the GDL Metrica contains materials concerning the history of Vilnius, Minsk, Polotsk, Kiev and other areas of Belarus and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1522 to 1552. The documents are published in the language of the original, Old Belarusian. The book includes detailed introductions in Belarusian, Russian, English and Lithuanian, and also extensive scientific indices prepared in accordance with the criteria of the international program for the study and publication of the GDL Metrica.

    If you would like more information about this book or would like to purchase a copy, please contact us.
    E-mail address:
    Tel. in Minsk: (375-17) 239-70-97
    Postal address: Metrica, P.O.Box 71 Minsk 220123 BELARUS

    Yours truly,

    Aleh Dziarnovich
    Coordinator, GDL Metrica Project


References used in this file:

"Historya belaruskaj (kryuskaj) knigi. Sproba payasnitel'naj knigopisi ad kanca X da pachatku XIX stagoddzya" [The History of Belarusian (Creeve) Book. An Attempt of Explanational Description From the End of X to the Beginning of XIX Century], Ed. V. Lastouski, Published by the Belarusian Center in Lithuania, Publishing House of Sakalouski and Lan, Kauno 1926.
UC Berkeley Library PG 2834.2 A12H51926 Main

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