Influx of the “outside” nobility into Samogitia in the 16th century
Napływ obcej szlachty do Żmudzi w XVI wieku
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Recent studies of migration in Grand Duchy of Lithuania show the influx of foreign nobility into Samogitia in the second half of the 16th century. This article attempts to clarify the three so far unexplored, but very important, circumstances of this migration. 1. The role of Polish migration. There is no doubt that the Poles made up the majority of migrants. At that time Samogitians dissatisfaction was directed against both Polish and Ruthenian, German, Hungarian and Lithuanian (!) migrants. The migration of Lithuanians into Samogitia had not been investigated. It is, therefore, likely that the number of Polish migrants in the context of total migration is undeservedly exaggerated. 2. In the 16th century the movement of the noble from one region to another was not a matter of fact. This usually happened when the Ruler rewarded distinguished noblemen with land and peasants from his ducal domain. The domain of the Grand Duke in Samogitia was just recreated in the fourth decade of the 16th century. And only after that did the Ruler hand benefice. The study of the dynamics of benefices during the 16th century clarifies that land distribution for nobles of non-local origins sharply increased during the last years of Sigismund Augustus’ reign. In part this can be explained by the Ruler wishes to reward meritorious Rittmeister of Livonian War. 3. In addition to the Ruler’s benefice policy the Lithuanian magnates’ patronage had heavy influence on nobility migration too. In the middle of the 16th century Chodkiewicz family of Ruthenic origin established itself in Samogitia. The clientele of Hieronim Chodkiewicz was composed of the nobility of the Ruthenian and Polish origin who moved into Samogitia. The latter fact led to the displacement of the nobles of Samogitian origin from the region elite.
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