Volume 32, No. 1 - Spring 1986
Editor of this issue: Jonas Zdanys
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1986 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


The "Lithuanian Metrica" in Moscow and Warsaw: Reconstructing the Archives of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Including An Annotated Edition of the 1887 Inventory Compiled by Stanislaw Ptaszycki. Edited by Patricia Kennedy Grimsted, Harvard University and with collaboration of Irena Sulkowska-Kurasiowa, Polish Academy of Sciences. Published by the Harvard College jointly with the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, for the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1984. xvi, 73, vii, 279,109 p. This volume has been selected for inclusion in the Harvard Series in Ukrainian Studies.

Patricia Kennedy Grimsted is a Research Associate at the Ukrainian Research Institute and the Russian Research Center of Harvard University. In 1972 she edited "Archives and manuscript repositories in the USSR, Moscow and Leningrad," xxx, 436 p., and in 1982 — "Archives and manuscript repositories in the USSR, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Byelorussia", 972, ix p. In September 1982 in the quarterly "Harvard Ukrainian Studies" vol. vi, Nr. 3 (269-338 p.) she published an essay: "What is and what was the Lithuanian Metrica? The content, history, and organization of the Chancery Archives of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania".

Lithuanian Metrica, also Lithuanian Matricula (Lith. Lietuvos Metrika, Russ. Litovskaia Metrika), is a term, given to the register and description of documents issued or received by Lithuanian rulers of the 14th-18th centuries. In historical literature the same term was generally used for the archive of the chancellery of old Lithuania. In time the archive contained: 1. registration books of papers sent out and received by the chancellery, and synopses or complete copies of these papers; 2. originals of treaties, acts of union, documents of privileges and other important matters. The old Lithuanian chancellery not only registered all outgoing and incoming papers, but also noted the general content of each document issued by the ruler or in his name by high state officials, and of each more important document, although its original might also be kept in the chancellery. Diplomatic papers which were sent to and from abroad were copied word by word. Other documents which were considered worthy of lengthy or permanent preservation were also copied exactly.

There is little information about when the government chancellery began to function permanently in Lithuania. Gediminas (1316-1341) in his castle in Vilnius had scrivener monks who prepared foreign correspondence in Latin. Vytautas the Great knew various languages; documents were written in Latin, Chancellery Slavonic, German, Arabic, and other languages. During the rule of Casimir (1440-1492) books were kept in which the privileges granted by the ruler were recorded. The registration books accompanied Casimir, but the documents remained in Trakai castle together with the royal treasury.

In 1765 Lithuanian Metrica books and documents were moved to Warsaw, where a large number of the books were rewritten in Latin letters, newly numbered and bound. After the partition of Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania, imperial Russia moved the national archives of the Commonwealth in 1796 to St. Petersburg.

A sufficiently clear picture of the content and the fate of the Lithuanian Metrica is given by the table of contents of the presented book, edited by Patricia Kennedy Grimsted.

Basically the book is divided in three parts.

Part I: Introduction: Problems Regarding the Organization, Content, and Arrangement of the Lithuanian Metrica, by Patricia Kennedy Grimsted (in English).

1. Problems of Definition

2. Stages in the History and Organization of the L.M. Complex 

a. The "Lithuanian Metrica" in Vilnius before the 1740s
b. The "Lithuanian Metrica" in Warsaw (1740-1795)
c. The "Lithuanian Metrica" in St. Petersburg (1795-1887)
d. The "Lithuanian Metrica" in Moscow and Warsaw

3. Types of Metrica Books and Series Groupings 

a. Inscription Books
b. Books of Public Affairs (Chancellor's Books)
c. Sigillata Lists and Summary Registers
d. Judicial Books e. Land Survey Books f. Legation Books.

Part II: Inventory of books and documents of the Lithuanian Metrica compiled by the Metricant Stanislaw Ptaszycki (in Russian)

Preface (facsimile reprint)

Section 1: General information about the Lithuanian Metrica

Chapter 1:

I. The Lithuanian Metrica before its transport to St. Petersburg
II. The Metrica in St. Petersburg Chapter 2: Arrangement of the Lithuanian Metrica Chapter 3: Studies of the Metrica

Section 2: Inventory of Books and Documents of the Lithuanian Metrica (facsimile reprint with marginal indications of current archival numbers in Moscow (TsGADA) and Warsaw (AGAD).

I. Books of Inscription, A. Lithuanian, B. Crown
II. Books of Judicial Affairs, A. Lithuanian, B. Crown
III. Books of Public Affairs, A. Lithuanian, B. Crown
IV. Books of Revisions, or Land Survey Books...
V. Books of notes
VI. Books of Sealings
VII. Books of Permanent Council and Files of Recent Origin VIM. Inventories (Books of Registers)
IX. New books
X. Early documents (charters)
XI. Genealogical registers
XII. Estate maps.

Part III: Appendices (in English)

1. A Preliminary List of Volumes held in the Fond of the Lithuanian Metrica in TsGADA, which were transferred there from the Moscow Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (fond 389, opus 2, nos. 587-601, 602-662)

2. A Preliminary List of Books and Registers of the Lithuanian Metrica in Warsaw, Cracow and Vilnius.

A. Books of the Lithuanian Metrica and Related Volumes of the Crown Metrica 
B. Registers of the Lithuanian Metrica, including Registers of Sealed Documents (Sigillata) and Summary Registers

3. A Preliminary List of Inventories of the Lithuanian Metrica

4. Books of the Lithuanian Metrica in their Order in the Ptaszycki (1887) Inventory with their Current TsGADA or AGAD Numbers, with correlations to their 1623 Order, and to their eighteenth-century Warsaw Numbers (1747 and 1787), Summaries, and Transcriptions.

5. Books of the Lithuanian Metrica in their eighteenth-century Warsaw Order with Correlation to their 1623 Order, the Ptaszycki (1887) Inventory, their Current TsGADA or AGAD Numbers, and to the eighteenth-century Summaries and Transcriptions prepared in Warsaw

6. Books of the Lithuanian Metrica in their 1623 Order with their Current TsGADA or AGAD Numbers, with their Order in the Ptaszycki (1887) Inventory, and with their Earlier eighteenth-century Warsaw Numbers (1747 and 1787)

7. Correlation Table for the Books of the Ruthenian (or Volhynian) Series of the Crown Metrica

8. Record Books of Appellate Legal Decrees Relating to Podlachia from the Lithuanian Metrica: Correlation Table of Archival Inventory Listings.

The list of illustrations gives supplementary information about the content of this book:

1. Map of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth in the early seventeenth-century.

2. Map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania prepared in Venice ca. 1696 by Vicenzo Maria Coronelli 

1p. Selected books, copies, and registers in the Lithuanian Metrica complex in AGAD in Warsaw 
2p. Act of Union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with the Kingdom of Poland, Lublin, 1 July 1569 (AGAD, parchment collection) 

3p. Initial title and first entry in the Sixteenth-Century inventory of documents in the Grand Ducal treasury. The original inventory in two copies is held in TsGADA, fond 389, nos. 1 and 2 (AGAD, ML 191A, folio 1) 

4p. Bookplate of Stanislaus August Poniatowski, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, affixed to the inside cover of all books of the Lithuanian Metrica rebound in the 1780s in Warsaw under the direction of Adam Naruszewicz, dated 1786 (AGAD, TzwML I.A.26)

5p. Frontispiece of volumes of Eighteenth-Century transcriptions of the earliest volumes of the Lithuanian Metrica, prepared in Warsaw (AGAD, ML 191A)

 6p. Portrait of Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski, last king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania, from the frontispiece of volumes of Eighteenth-Century transcriptions of the Lithuanian Metrica prepared in Warsaw (AGAD, ML 191A) 

7p. Binding cord, seal, and inscription affixed to all of the books of the Lithuanian Metrica in St. Petersburg by the Commission of 1835 (AGAD, TzwML IV.B.24) 8p. Initial page of the earliest book of inscriptions of the Lithuanian Metrica (Czartoryski Library, Cracow, MS 3226) 

9p. Added title and first entry in the Eighteenth-Century Warsaw copy of the earliest book of inscriptions of the Lithuanian Metrica, re-copied from the 1579 copy of TsGADA, fond 389, no. 3 (AGAD, ML 191A, folio 113) 

10p. Fragments from a Sixteenth-Century inscription book from the Lithuanian Metrica in the Radziwill Archive in AGAD, 1511-1518 (AGAD, AR II, 61-10)

 11p. Fragments from a Sixteenth-Century inscription book from the Lithuanian Metrica in the Radziwill Archive in AGAD, 1511- 1518

12p. Seal of John III Sobieski (1629-1696) (3 different views) (AGAD) 13p. Inventory of judicial records from the Lithuanian Assessor's Court transferred to the Lithuanian Metrica in 1784, prepared by Jan Jelenski (Czartoryski Library, Cracow, MS 857, folio 5).

Almost a century has passed since the publication of this most recent inventory of the highest level chancery records from the old State of Lithuania and other high level archival materials from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that were held together in St. Petersburg, and later in Moscow, under the collective title of the "Lithuanian Metrica". The materials covered by this inventory are now divided between the Central State Archive of Early Acts (TsGADA-Tsentral'nyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv drevnikh aktov) in Moscow and the Main Archive of Early Acts (AGAD-Archivum Glowne Akt Dawnych) in Warsaw.

Some of the materials returned to Warsaw have since been restored to their appropriate archival groups and have since been described in more recent inventories. For much of the materials now in Warsaw, however, the 1887 inventory compiled by the St.

Ptaszycki still remains the basic archival research. Likewise, the Ptaszycki inventory remains the only available research aid for the records that remain in Moscow from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the palatinates in the Ukrainian lands. The re-publication of the Ptaszycki inventory with marginal indications of the location and current archival code numbers of the materials listed should be viewed as a temporary expedient to help scholars and archivists to identify and locate the materials covered. This publication should provide some of the raw materials necessary for the preparation of a new descriptive inventory.

Ptaszycki's inventory lists most — but not all (separate foreign legation books of the L.M. were then held in the Moscow Main Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs-MGAMID) — of extant chancery record books of the Grand Duchy then held in Moscow (usually identified as such by Ptaszycki), it also encompasses a major part of the much larger collection of archival materials brought from Poland to St. Petersburg at the end of the Eighteenth Century. These include well-identified parts of the Crown Metrica, other miscellaneous documentary materials from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the reign of Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski, and a major collection of original documents and charters from the former Cracow Crown Archive of the Kingdom of Poland, almost all of which were later returned to Poland. In fact, less than half the items covered by the Ptaszycki inventory are actual record books from the Lithuanian chancery, or had earlier been considered part of the Lithuanian Metrica.

Further Patricia Grimsted-Kennedy insisted that: "Though the Sixteenth Century, Byelorussian in its late medieval form, often called Ruthenian, was the predominant chancery language in the Grand Duchy", it was not "Byelorussian in its late medieval form". Such a language never existed. It is correct, that the language used in the old Lithuania as a Chancery language, in Latinized term, was named "Ruthenian", and in the Lithuanian Statute is named as "Ruski" (not "Russkii" or "Ruskii"), but this language is neither a "West Russian" nor "Late medieval Byelorussian". It is "Chancery Slavonic Language" related to the "Church Slavonic Language". See: J. Dainauskas "Lietuvos D.K. jstatymai ir statutai iđ 1457-1563", Tautos Praeitis — The Past of Nation, Lithuanian Historical Magazine, vol. II, book 2 (6), Rome (Chicago, 1965, p. 81-106), and Prof. Dr. Z. Zinkevičius "Slaviđkoji Kanceliarinë Kalba", monthly "Mokslas ir gyvenimas" Nr. 2, 1976, Vilnius, p. 30-31.

Church Slavonic Language and Chancery Slavonic Language have the same root, the same origin.

In old Lithuanian, the Chancery Slavonic language was used only for official purposes until the XVI-XVIII c., and in the Valachia, the same language, was in use for official purposes even to the beginning of the XIX c.

In medieval times and today this language has no more in common with the Russian (Russkii), Byelorussian, Ukrainian language than the Latin language has with the Spanish, French, Portuguese or Italian languages. Say for example, in this medieval document written in Latin and prepared in Portugal, France, or Ireland, it is possible to find several peculiar expressions of local origin, introduced in such a document by a local clerk. In spite of such findings, this document could not be considered as written in the Portuguese or French, or Irish language. The same rule must be applied to all documents written in this Chancery Slavonic language, in old Lithuania. In the "Archeograficheskii Ezhegodnik za 1960 god" (Moscow, AN SSSR, 1962, p. 244-263), is published an essay by Bogdan D.P., titled "Tri drevniejshikh Slaviano-Valashskikh gramoty (from 1374-1387)". The language of this document and the manner of writing of several letters are thoroughly identical in the vocabulary, sentence structure and the writing of several characters of the Chancery Slavonic language used in old Lithuania. Is the language of this documents also Byelorussian or West Russian? This Chancery Slavonic language has a large number of words which even in root form are not found either in Russian, or in Byelorussian dictionaries and at the same time these words, very often with same sound and transcription form are found even in the dictionaries of the modern Serbian or Bulgarian language.

In reality the origin of the Church Slavonic and the Chancery Slavonic languages is connected with the division (in 395 A.D.) of the old Roman Empire in the West—Rome and the East— Byzantine imperiums. In the East, in territories under the influence of the Byzantian culture, Greek was the dominant language. In 862, the Ruler of the Great Moravian Kingdom, Rostislav, requested the Byzantian Emperor Michael IIIrd to ". . .send to Moravia the Holy Scripture teachers with a good command of the Slavonic language..." in order to prevent the German invasion in the Moravia plains (especially from the Bishopry of Salzburg). For this task the Emperor of Byzantium selected the two brothers, Constantine-Cyril and Methodius, both slavic in origin, from the city of Solune (contemporary Saloniki) from the south part of Macedonia. They spoke the macedonian dialect of the Bulgarian language, which belongs to the south branch of the Slavonic languages. During preparation for their mission to Moravia, Cyril, a very learned man who spoke many languages, coined for this Slavonic language a special alphabet based on the Greek alphabet. As both brothers arrived in Moravia, with Rome's permission this language together with the new alphabet was introduced in the ecclesiastic liturgy. The Church Slavonic language was created this way.

Similarly, in X-XII c. and especially during the reign of the Tsar Simeon (880-927) in Bulgaria, the secular Bulgarian literature flourished and also developed into a very rich literary language, It replaced the Creek language as a literary language for many years in the Balkans. This Slavonic language became not only the language for all common purposes but also, common literary works were translated from Greek into this language. Also this language was used for various official forms, law norms that had been painstakingly developed in Byzantium for official uses, and as a model for documents in both Slavonic and non-Slavonic speaking countries.

The written Church Slavonic Language, finally formed in Bulgaria, was used by Christianity as it came to the territories north of the Black Sea.

The Chancery Slavonic, used by kings' and princes' chanceries, followed the Church Slavonic Language and very quickly also reached old Kiev. It is quite possible, that the Chancery Slavonic Language was more flexible than the Church Slavonic Language, and thus it was possible that this language adopted as its own several local words or local expressions.

Undoubtedly this secular Chancery Slavonic Language of Bulgarian origin, continuously developed and during several centuries gradually reached a very high linguistic level. After 1240, when the Kiev state was destroyed by the Tartars, and later, when in 1356 the University was established in Prague, this language deprived of direct contact with Bulgaria (after 1393 y.), approached the central Slavic language group, especially the old juridical Czech language. But the roots of this language, derived from the Old Slavonic Language, Macedonian dialect, were in IXth century Macedonia in Saloniki.

What was the name of this language? The historians from Xth century had indicated that Cyril and Methodius had this or another book translated "from the Greek to the Slavonic language". In 880 Pope John VIII confirmed the liturgical books in the "Slavonic" language and in the letter given by him for this purpose the Pope has stated, that this book "is written in Slavonic characters (Litteras

Slaviniscas)" 2. In the Lithuanian Grand Duchy this language was named the "Rus, Ruthenian" language. It is possible that this name was connected to the way this language came to Lithuania, especially from the Halich Rus Kingdom, in history known as the Red Russia, Red Ruthenia, Volynija.

The Chancery Slavonic Language used in the Lithuanian Grand Duchy and in Valakhia, now are given different names: West Russian, Old Byelorussian, Slaviano-Valakh languages without any scholarly basis. However, this usage is not correct and no scholarly work, thus far published, has given any proof that these suppositions are correct. The best scholar of the Byelorussian language, academician prof, Jevfimij F. Karskij, in his monumental work "Belorussy. Jazyk belorusskogo naroda" have not given any evidence that this language could be named "Old Byelorussian" or "Byelorussian in its late medieval form" or any other East Slavic language. He stated only that in the Lithuanian Statute or other official Lith. Gr. D. document from XVI-XVII c. written in the "Rus-Ruthenian Language" he has found only several words, which could be considered as a words belonging to the Byelorussian Language.

The most important and also the most controversial problem of the Lithuanian Metrica is its content. Correctly the term Lithuanian Metrica should refer only to the formal Lithuanian Chancery record books for outgoing documents. In reality the term has been used in reference to the entire but varying body of materials that was stored, and later moved about with the actual Lithuanian Chancery record books. Often the term "L.M." continues to be used loosely with reference to the entire archives of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, not just the Chancery records themselves. It was also used more specifically, but still loosely, in reference to various component parts of the archives, such as groups of records from other institutions. Indeed, the term "metrica" itself was sometimes used synonymously with or in lieu of the term "archive" with reference to various groups of institutional records within the Grand Duchy.

In its extended usage covering high level chancery archives, sometimes the term Lithuanian Metrica also encompassed parchment charters and other original incoming documents, as well as the actual chancery record books. This could have occurred because, at least initially, completed Metrica books were stored in the treasury of the castle in Vilnius along with the vaults or treasury chests of original documents. To add to the confusion, two of the early volumes traditionally kept with the inscription books of the

"L.M." are actually inventories of the original parchment charters dating from the years 1386 to 1491 that were held in the Vilnius castle treasury with the Metrica in the late sixteenth century. However, only a few of the original documents they list survive today, and none of them are still kept with the Lithuanian Metrica complex.

Original charters, treaties, and other incoming documents were obviously an integral part of the archives of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but from an archival standpoint they should be distinguished clearly from the chancery metrica books and not considered part of the Lithuanian Metrica complex. Such a distinction makes sense because, historically, original documents from the Grand Duchy archives after the sixteenth century were usually separate from the chancery record books and had quite a different fate. For example, in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries many parchment documents were removed by the Radvilas chancellors and stored in their own family estate archive in Nesvyţius, where they remained, for the most part, until after World War I. Those still extant have since been deposited in the Main Archive of Early Acts (AGAD) in Warsaw. A group of 71 parchments dating from the years 1401-1687 originally from the Lithuanian state archive are now extant in AGAD, but none of these were ever inventoried as part of the Lithuanian Metrica. Some parts of the Radvilas archive are now held by the Central State Historical Archive of the Byelorussian SSR in Minsk, but none of the parchments remain there. In 18th century Warsaw, inventories of the Lithuanian Metrica did not include original parchment documents.

The fact that the Metrica body has been copied, rebound, moved around, and reorganized so many times further complicates the problems of its exact definition, contents, and appropriate organization. In fact, the present organization of the Lithuanian Metrica, with the core collection of basic volumes in Moscow and with auxiliary materials in Warsaw, should be recognized as its fourth major arrangement and the fourth different complex of materials of which the Lithuanian chancery books have formed part during the five centuries since their inception. Although to be sure, gradual developments and often significant changes took place within each stage, three major earliest stages should be identified — the 1st, in Vilnius from the early 16th century to the 1740s; the 2nd, in Warsaw from the 1740s to 1795; and the 3rd, in St. Petersburg from 1796 until 1887. Further study is needed of the available inventories produced during these different stages in order to understand the contents and organization of the Metrica complex in each period and to reconstruct the original organization of the record books as they were being created in the chanceries of the Grand Duchy.

Until the early 16th century, completed Lithuanian chancery books, registers, and related documents were retired for safekeeping from the capital in Vilnius to a special storage vault in the castle of Trakai. By 1511, the Metrica record books were usually kept in the treasury of the castle in Vilnius. In 1594, Chancellor Levas Sapiega ordered the early volumes to be re-copied, and the process continued until 1607. Only a few of the original volumes or contemporary copies survive from before that period. The Metrica continued to be kept in Vilnius during most of the 17th century, in large part in the castle, but some materials were apparently stored in another building near the city marketplace. Some Metrica books were reportedly taken away from the Vilnius castle during the Russian siege of Vilnius in 1655. Apparently these were never recovered.

To make matters even more confusing and complicated regarding the use of the term, the body of materials from the Ptaszycki inventory (1887) that remains in Moscow — only about half of the whole collection — is still referred to as the Lithuanian Metrica. To add another complication, over eighty items previously held in the Moscow Foreign Ministry Archive have been added to the collection of materials covered by Ptaszycki. Over 660 units, and if additional documents are counted, probably well over 700 units, are now held in fond 389 of the Central State Archive of Early Acts (TsGADA) in Moscow. Usually referred to as the "Fond of the Lithuanian Metrica", technically the group should be described as a "collection", because it is not a cohesive body of institutional records. The materials are not arranged as a true archival fond with respect to their provenance and natural order. Indeed, their very jumbled order reflects the artificial organization imposed on most of them as part of the larger collection of the Polish-Lithuanian archival materials that was brought to St. Petersburg after the Third Partition of Commonwealth.

Among these materials are approximately 500 volumes of Lithuanian chancery books with registers and related materials, which should be identified as the Lithuanian Metrica. Some are in the original, others are in later copies. Many, however, have been re-copied and bound out of their original natural order, or in artificially contrived volumes to such an extent that it is impossible at present to determine the exact number of chancery books extant. Adding to the complexity are small groups of related records and miscellaneous volumes of varying provenance that have traditionally been stored with the chancery record books, copied with them, and earlier inventoried with them. On the other hand, actual Lithuanian chancery books are existent elsewhere in archives and manuscript collections in the Soviet Union and Poland.

The present arrangement of the Lithuanian Metrica in its fond in TsGADA, with subsidiary, and in some cases continguous, materials scattered in AGAD and elsewhere, as we have seen, actually represents the 4th in a series of stages in the organization of the Lithuanian Metrica complex. The organization and content of the collection of which the Lithuanian Chancery record books formed a part has changed so radically in these 4 different stages that it becomes impossible to speak of the Lithuanian Metrica complex, in its larger and looser sense, without precise reference to the different configurations of the collection as it existed in Vilnius in the 17th century, in Warsaw in the 18th century, in St. Petersburg in the 19th century, and finally as it exists today in Moscow and Warsaw with scattered volumes elsewhere.

According to the Peace Treaty between Lithuania and Soviet Russia signed in Moscow on July 12, 1920, the Lithuanian Metrica was to be returned to Lithuania, but this was never done.

One historian from the Lithuanian Academy of Science in Vilnius also participated at the Soviet-Polish historical colloquium on the Lithuanian Metrica publication project held in Moscow and Warsaw. Possibly Lithuanian historians will be charged with the publication of one or several volumes of documents from the Lithuanian Metrica.

Jonas Dainauskas