About Belarus


The Orthodoxy in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Protestants of Belarus

Andrej Kotljarchuk

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia and Samogitia (the full official name of the state, further the GDL) was a multicultural. People of different nationalities inhabited the country; the majority of the population comprised East Slavs (Ruthenians) and Balts (Lithuanians and Samogitians) [1]. In addition, there were Jews, Poles, Lithuanian Tartars and Germans. The political nation consisted mostly of three ethnic groups of nobility: Ruthenians (nowadays known as Belarusians), Lithuanians and Samogitians (nowadays known as Lithuanians). Historically, Ruthenians from the 11th century belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church and Lithuanians from the end of 14th -beginning of 15th centuries were Roman Catholics. Therefore the GDL political elite fell in two confessional groups: the Orthodox and the Catholic [2]. The spread of Reformation in Lithuania and Belarus has changed this situation dramatically. From 1523 to 1546 twenty young magnates from the GDL attended Martin Luther's lectures in the University of Wittenberg [3]. In 1553, the duke Mikolaj Radziwill Niger converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism and founded one of the first Lutheran parishes in Belarus (Brest). Muscovite political emigrants Andrej Kurbski and monk Artemii wrote in the 1570's about essential dissemination of Lutheranism namely among the Ruthenian nobility of Lithuania, not to mention Ruthenian nobility of Ukraine [4]. Protestantism became extremely popular among the Ruthenian gentry [5]. The new faith attracted the Orthodox nobility by its closeness with the principles of Orthodoxy: absence of celibacy among the regular clergy, divine service in understandable tongue; congregation of believers under two sacraments (bread and wine), essential role of laity in congregation. The Reformation spreads even in eastern districts [6]. Very soon the new Reformed churches appear in Vitsebsk, Polatsk, Mahileu, Kopys and Halouchyn. The district of Braslau becomes the centre of Reformation in northern Belarus where the Protestant nobility, led by Mirski and Puciata, preserves power during the whole 17th century.

In 1562, Szymon Budny, supported by the Radziwill family, published in Niasvizh a Lutheran Catechism in Ruthenian. In 1563, the Protestant Bible, sponsored by the clan of the Radziwills, was printed in Brest in Polish. In 1572, the Arian edition of Bible was published in Polish, in Niasvizh. From 1580, the Arian nobleman, Wasyl Ciapinski from Polatsk published the New Testament in Ruthenian. A great number of manuscript Calvinist and Arian psalm-books, songbooks, Catechisms in Ruthenian have been preserved [7].

The Protestant Church in the GDL was formally established as a Jednota Litewska (Lithuanian Unity) in Vilnius, in 1578. It included the Major Church (Calvinists) and the Minor Church (Lithuanian Brethren, known also as Arians or Socinians or Anti-Trinitarians or Unitarians). The Lithuanian Unity also supported one Lutheran bishopric. The Protestant Unity included 6 districts: three of them were on the territory of present-day Belarus:

1. District of Novahrudak (with the centre at Slutsk Dom church)
2. District of Podlasie (Zabludow)
3. District of Belarus (Kojdanava)[8]

In 1600, the GDL totally counted 229 Calvinist, 16 Arian and 12 Lutheran congregations [9]. Note that 98 % out of all churches centred on western and northern parts of the country. To the east of Minsk where the Orthodox population prevailed with the territory making up about 40 % of total area, there were only 5 churches. At first, the Protestants of Belarus showed their hostile attitudes towards the Faith of their ancestors, Orthodoxy: the former were iconoclasts and treated the Greek Faith as their competitor. In 1567 Szymon Budny wrote to his brothers in Switzerland that the main concurrent for the Protestantism in the GDL not Catholicism but the Orthodoxy [10]. The Orthodox responded to the propagation of Reformation with the work "Respond to the Luther" which comes from the Suprasl monastery near Hrodna. However, this sole anti-Protestant treatise has never been published and is available in the form of two manuscripts of 1580 and 1600 [11]. Obviously in the waters of counterreformation the necessity of such polemic documents vanishes away. From the end of the 16th century, Ruthenian protestant nobility, to impart the Slavic Reformation the traits of ancient faith, attempts to attach Protestantism to local historical tradition. About 1576, the pastor from Vitsebsk Andrej Kolodynski fabricates the document under the title "The letter of Ivan Smerd to the Grand Duke Vladimir" in the guise of translation from Bulgarian into the Ruthenian. According to the text, in the 10th century the healer of Grand Duke of Kiev left for Greece to study medicine. From there he writes a letter to Vladimir strongly criticizing the practices of the Orthodox Church. However, the most interesting fragment is the one where he narrates that during his travel he came across true Christians among the Slavs, keeping to the Gospel in their everyday life:

They are quiet and sincere. They have houses of prayers where there are no idols but there are only tables and benches. The Gospel and epistles is their Holy book. They also have a cross. They deny celibacy, fasts and slavery [12].

So, Kolodynski makes an ideal picture of Slavonic Protestant congregation that existed during the rise of Christianity at that part of Europe. His aim here was to ground the traditional nature of the new to Ruthenian people confession. In 1643, a spiritual leader of Arians, Andrzej Wiszowaty, the preacher of the congregation in Filipow (district of Trakai) and a Ruthenian nobleman by birth (at the same time a grandson of the founder of movement Fausto Socini) visited the district of Starodub. When Wiszowaty crossed the River of Dnepr Jerzy Niemirycz who followed him compared Wiszowaty to St. Andrew, the famous legendary apostle to the Eastern Slavs [13].

The counter-reformation made the Protestants change their attitudes toward the Orthodoxy. In 1569, the Union of Lublin was put into effect. In the same year, the Jesuits came from Poland and founded the first college in Vilnius. Only in Belarus the Jesuits opened their colleges in Polatsk in1585, in Niasvizh -1586, in Orsha - 1616, in Brest - 1623, in Hrodna and Minsk -1625, in Vitsebsk -1648. Alarmed by the mass conversion of the Orthodox nobility to Protestant denominations, the Orthodox Church hierarchs opted for Union with the Roman Catholic Church and established in Brest in 1596 the new Uniate or Greek-Catholic Church. King Sigismund III Vasa, the Jesuits and the Catholic elite supported this action. The two first hierarchs of the new Greek Catholic Church, the metropolitans Adam (Ipaci) Pociej and Josef Rutski were Calvinists and came from Ruthenian noble families. They both converted from Calvinism to Greek Catholicism and both became the most active critics of Protestantism [14]. Having consequently lost the bishops the Orthodox Church was admitted out of law. Under the state plan, all Orthodox churches had to be converted into Greek Catholic. However, this plan disaccorded with the plans of Protestant and Orthodox nobility. Concurrently they organized an alternative anti-union Greek-Orthodox church assembly in Brest in the building belonging to local Protestant Malcher Rajski. The Calvinist nobleman. Demean Hulewicz became the leader assembly [15]. The Ruthenian city of Slutsk appeared to be the centre of the dissidents. It was the largest private city of the country with the population of about 7000 inhabitants and belonged to Boguslaw Radziwill. Whereas between 1596 and 1632the Orthodox Church in the Commonwealth was illegal, Slutsk located 15 active Orthodox churches. Apart from that, Slutsk was the centre of Protestantism. Here was situated the Protestant gymnasium two Calvinist churches (one of them for the Scots), one Lutheran church and no one Catholic. The Slutsk Protestant gymnasium, founded in 1617, was aimed to become the educational centre for Ruthenian students from Novahrudak, Podlasie and Belarus [16].

One of the aims of the counter-reformation in Belarus was to replace non-Catholic elite. In 1572, the Protestants prevailed among the senators of the GDL (16 senators or 73%) who together with Orthodox senators (3 senators) made 86, 5 % in the Council of Lords. At the same time only three senators were the Catholics including two Roman-Catholic bishops whose positions were guaranteed by law. However, in 1632, the last year of Sigismund III Vasa reign, Catholic magnates represented 100% of senators [17]. Such state of affairs required political counter-actions. In 1599, the general confederation between Protestants and Greek Orthodox nobility was proclaimed in Vilnius. Orthodox and Protestant magnates and nobility joined the general confederation to protect Orthodox and Protestants Faiths "from cunning actions of Catholic clergy". The signers of the confederation declared that the counter - reformation resulted in discrimination of non-Catholic nobility in their own country, since their personal confession had a negative affect on their political career [18]. It is worth noting that the conditions of the signed treaty were viable and efficiently worked during the first half of the 17th century. Having amalgamated the Protestants and the Orthodox created a united front at the local dietines and in the Diet [19].

One of the settled stereotypes of classical Polish historiography is a myth about plebeian character of Orthodoxy in the 17th century Belarus and Lithuania. Actually, during the whole century the Orthodox nobility constituted a powerful social group including magnate clans. After 1632, the Orthodoxy was again presented by "the elite of the elite", senators. In 1654 it included Ruthenian Orthodox senators: Aleksander Oginski, the castellan of Trakai (former governor of Minsk), Samuel Statkiewicz, the castellan of Novahrudak, Mikolaj Czetwertynski the castellan of Minsk and Maksymilian Brzozowski, the governor of Brest. At the same time Janusz Radziwill, the palatine of Vilnius and the grand hetman, Jan Sosnowski, the castellan of Polatsk and Tomasz Kossakowski, the castellan of Vitsebsk, represented the Calvinists. The strong ties connected the Radziwill faction with the Orthodox clan of Oginski [20].

It was magnate clans of the Oginski and Statkiewicz together with some representatives of such families as Wollowicz, Drucki Sokolinski, Massalski, Chodkiewicz, Lomski, Sapieha, Tryzna, Meszczeryn and Onichimowski who were the sponsors of Orthodox editions in Ruthenian and Church-Slavonic languages [21]. Orthodox publicists called the clan of Oginski "the bastion of Orthodox faith". The Oginski clan had a political domination in the palatinate of Vitsebsk. Their palace in Vitsebsk, built in the first half of the 17th century by Samuel Oginski, was a symbol of richness of the clan. Until the beginning of the 19th century, it was the largest public building in the city. The owner of the palace - Orthodox prince Samuel Oginski studied in Holland at Franeker University. There he married the daughter of the local burgomaster Mrs van Staakman and brought her to Vitsebsk [22]. Orthodox origin of Samuel Oginski prevented him from the senator position. However, Samuel Oginski had more political influence and power in the palatinate of Vitsebsk than the palatine sent by Warsaw. In 1653, a noble from Vitsebsk, Krysztof Kiszka wrote: "Oginski, not the palatine is like the plague to the local nobility [23].

The Vilnius Orthodox brotherhood of the Holy Spirit was the centre of political struggle of the Orthodox nobility. In the 17th century, the representatives of magnate clans of the Oginski and Statkiewicz were leaders of the brotherhood. At the same time the protectors of the brotherhood were the Calvinists Krysztof II Radziwill and his son Janusz Radziwill [24]. The marriage of Janusz Radziwill to princess Maria Lupu (1645) the daughter of the Orthodox ruler of Moldavia Vasile Lupu made Radziwill the main protector of the Orthodoxy in Belarus. Protestant clan of the Radziwills became one the largest founders of the Orthodox Church. For the 17th century they made 50 foundations to the Orthodox Church on their territory [25]. The news of Radziwill's marriage echoed in Scandinavia as a good example of understanding between Protestantism and Orthodoxy. In 1644-45, Russia and Denmark negotiated to conclude anti-Swedish alliance. The first step of the treaty was to be a marriage of one of the 23 children of the Danish king Christian IV, his illegitimate son Valdemar Christian [26], to Irina Michailovna, the elder daughter of tsar Mikhail. The main obstacle was the claim that Valdemar Christian should adopt Orthodoxy. Russian ambassadors' arguments on absolute inadmissibility of marriage between a Lutheran man and an Orthodox woman were objected by a clergyman of the Danish embassy Matteus Fehlhaber, who alluded to a marriage of Janusz Radziwill and Maria Lupu, blessed by Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople [27].

On October 31 1632, a new elected king of the Commonwealth Wladyslaw Vasa signed "Articles to soothe the Orthodox Church" proposed by non-Catholic nobility. This resulted in foundation of the Belarusian eparchy with the centre in Mahileu. The bishop of Belarus should be elected in accordance with old traditions of consultations with nobility and had to be "of noble origin". Outside Belarusian episcopate, the Orthodoxies were allowed to have monasteries and churches in Vilnius, Trakai, Brest, Minsk, Polatsk and Slutsk. That was a triumphal victory of the Orthodox-Protestant alliance. After 26 years of struggle, the Orthodox Church in Belarus resumed its legitimacy as well as the rights of free worship service, to build churches, publishing houses, create congregations and schools. Making analysis of the list of resumed Orthodox centres, one cannot but notice that in many places the Orthodox and Protestant Churches existed close to each other. The resumed churches arose mainly in the places where Protestant parish existed. Those included Minsk, Polatsk, Mahileu, Vitsebsk, Brest, and Halouchyn. A number of Orthodox churches built by the Radziwills in their towns (Kedainiai, Slutsk, Zabludow, Selets) [28]. These facts are the evidence of the success of Orthodox-Protestant alliance. Despite the legitimating of the Orthodox church, the struggle between disunites and uniates did not stop since the Orthodox church demanded restitution of churches and estate taken by Greek-Catholics. Under the pressure of dissident nobility Wladyslaw Vasa admitted this preposition reasonable. On March 14 1635, he issued a resolution to establish a commission on division the churches and property. The commission included three Orthodox and three Greek-Catholic nobles. That caused a number of new court disputes between the Orthodoxies and Greek-Catholics and required further coordination of political activity of the Orthodoxies and the Protestants [29]. Only because of the support of palatine of Vilnius Janusz Radziwill, in 1653 the local Orthodox population of Vilnius won three churches belonging to them before [30]. Under Radziwill's palatine's rule in metropolitan Vilnius the mayors of the City became two dissidents: a German Lutheran Jacob Gibel and a Belarusian Orthodox Prokop Dorofiewicz [31].

Belarusian merchants of Vilnius appreciated Radziwill's assistance and paid back by finance and diplomatic support of Radziwill's pro-Swedish policy in 1655-56. Note that the episcopate of Belarus had good direct relations with Lutheran Sweden. From 1632, two monasteries of Belarus (in Vitsebsk and Polatsk) had permissions on pastoral activity among Belarusian merchants of Riga: "to come to Riga fair city in the Swedish kingdom every year for admonition and strengthening in Faith of the sons of church there." [32] The support of the Orthodox by the Radziwills had financial background. Orthodox brotherhoods and individual merchants were the Radziwills' largest creditors [33]. The demand to respect the rights of dissedents at the 1648 election Diet was the evidence of consolidated position of the Protestant and Orthodox nobility. The senators Janusz Radziwill and Mikolaj Abramowicz together with Protestant and Orthodox ambassadors demanded the king to preserve the rights of the nonconformists. Orthodox senators Aleksander Oginski and Bohdan Statkiewicz and ambassadors Bohdan Oginski (district of Trakai), Michal Statkiewicz (district of Mstsislau) and Jerzy Nielubowicz Tukalski (district of Pinsk), joined the demand [34].

In response to the royal policy of Confessalization, the Ruthenian Protestants worked out the tradition of exclusion marriages in accordance with which marriages were possible with Orthodox nobility [35]. The marriages between the Protestants and the Orthodox arose. As result, part of nobility's sons belonged to the Protestantism and part to the Orthodoxy. The families of the Massalski, Lomski and Mirski were among them. The wealthy ennobled merchant Belarusian family of Lomski from the district of Orsha can serve as an example. In 1654 one representative of this kin Mikolaj Lomski, was a member of Mahileu Orthodox brotherhood [36]. At the same time, Protestant representatives of the clan were the main patrons of Reformed church in Kopys [37]. One of them, a Protestant Daniel Lomski came at the diplomatic service of Transylvania [38]. Metropolitan of Moscow Filoret Romanov, being a captive, was shocked by such coexistence Orthodox and Protestants in the families of Belarusian nobility "who eat, drink together, get married and even pray together."

The spread of Lutheranism among local non-German population made the Catholics feel uneasy. To stop this influence the Jesuits issued number pamphlets in Ruthenian and Polish with criticism of Lutheran pastors (their marital status, relations with the Orthodox etc.) [39]. Indeed the Lutherans taught in Orthodox school of Vilnius [40]. Lutheran books came out from Orthodox publishing house [41]. The local Calvinists borrowed from Orthodoxy the tradition to distribute alms among beggary after service [42]. Orthodoxy becomes the object of thorough examination on behalf of Lutheran pastor of Vilnius, the first rector of German lyceum in Stockholm Johannes Herbinius [43]. Namely in Vilnius in 1673-75 Herbinius wrote the principle book of his life - the first on the West history of the Kyiv Caves Monastery [44]. The Protestants supported the Orthodoxies in their desire to preserve old Julian calendar (convenient, apart from all, for trade contacts with Swedish Riga). Whenever as the Greek-Catholics published pamphlets criticizing the falseness of old calendar [45], the Protestants published the calendars with two parallel dates in accordance with the new and old calendar [46]. The Protestants of Belarusian districts kept to Julian calendar until the end of the 17th century, thus demonstrating accord with the Orthodox tradition [47]. Under the influence of Protestant thought, innovation tendencies are traced in the Ruthenian Orthodox theology. Orthodox activists demand that their believers should fast not only bodily but spiritually, call upon individual reading of the Bible etc.[49] From the other side whereas in the 16th century most Ruthenian Protestants considered Orthodoxy idol worshiping, in the 17th century they changed their opinion and Orthodoxy became an equal faith, which had an alternative way to the Heaven.

The Radziwills viewed their Orthodox subjects also as potential group of future co-believers. In accordance with their plans the protestant gymnasium in Slutsk was to become an educational centre of the local Belarusian youth. It was supposed to introduce a course of "Greek theology" to be read by an Orthodox professor with the status of vice-rector "who could attract young Ruthenian people from the neighbourhood" [50]. It is known that apart from the nobility local merchants joined Calvinist community in Vitsebsk and Kopys [51]. In 1630 the count of Orla in Podlasie the Arian Stanislaw Kurocz following the order of the Radziwills put up a campaign to attract to the local Calvinist church native Ruthenians [52]. The Protestants encouraged the Orthodox children in Vitsebsk to go to school at the Calvinist cathedral [53]. Despite the demand of political alliance the general attitude of some Ruthenian Protestants to their Orthodox brothers was as critical as before. In 1629, the judge of Brest Piotr Kochlewski wrote to Krzysztof II Radziwill that he could not accept "pagan idol mania of the Orthodoxy " as well as their vile tradition "to kiss the dead lips", that in Kochlewski's opinion was the reason of different epidemics [54]. Protestant administrators of the Slutsk Duchy tried to improve religious discipline of the peasants by the method of Martin Luther. Each village clergyman had to record the believers into special record-book. Each absentee had to pay a fine of one coin [55]. The modern Polish researchers mistakenly consider that only the Orthodox nobility preserved the Ruthenian identity [56]. The Orthodox authors have being polarizing with that Polish myth as early as in the 17th century. As it was noted by Melecijusz Smotrycki in 1621 "it is not the Faith that makes a Ruthenian Ruthenian, a Pole Pole, a Lithuanian Lithuanian but his origin and blood, Ruthenian, Polish or Lithuanian."[57] In the 17th century, the neophytes- the representatives of Ruthenian Catholic nobility considered themselves to be the Ruthenians [58]. The Ruthenian Protestants also regarded themselves as "Rus". The name of one of the dioceses of Lithuanian Unity "Belarusian" speaks for itself. For example, at the synod of Unity in 1612, with the propositions from "Ruthenian brethren of nobility estate" appeared a senator, the castellan of Pernau Piotr Stabrowski [59]. It is wroth noting that being a Calvinist, Stabrowski acted also as a protector of the Orthodox population in the district of Slonim [60]. Another representative of this family a Calvinist Jan Stabrowski gave the Orthodox of Polatsk his own house for their worship service when in 1621 their last church had been taken away [61]. One of the main founders of a new building of a legal Orthodox church in Polatsk (1633) was a Ruthenian Calvinist noble Sebastian Mirski [62].

Rather the Protestants than the Orthodox created a number of patriotic works to support the Ruthenian identity and language. The appeal of Budny the translator of Luther Minor Catechism into Ruthenian to the founders of the Radziwills publishing house in which he asks the Radziwills to remain faithful to the Ruthenian language, the tongue of their ancestors, is one of the proves of that [63]. The Arian noble from Polatsk Wasyl Ciapinski in the preface of Gospel published in his own publishing house on his own money determined the service to the native Ruthenian people as the purpose of his work: "serve to my people, since I come from them to serve to my Ruthenia."[64] Another Ruthenian, a Calvinist noble from Slutsk Jan Kazimierz Paszkiewicz created in 1621 a patriotic verse to the honor of the Ruthenian:

Poland is flourished with the Latin language
Lithuania blossoms with the Ruthenian tongue
One cannot do without the first in Poland
Without the second one you will be a fool in Lithuania

It is significant that Paszkiewicz's verse was published on the margins of Ruthenian language Status of 1529 - a code of laws and the main symbol of independence of the GDL from Poland [65]. A typical representative of a Ruthenian protestant can serve Teodor Jewlaszewski a Calvinist and a lawyer from Novahrudak. One of the well-known ancient Belarusian writers, the author of the first memoirs in Ruthenian, Jewlaszewski, was closely connected with Orthodox culture. He received primary education "in Ruthenian school, since at that time there were no other types of schools in our land". His father, Michail became Orthodox bishop of Pinsk and Turau [66]. Not surprisingly that some Reformed manuscripts as, for example, New Testament, translated by an Arian nobleman Walenty Niegaliewski, were used by Orthodox clergy [67]. The first Ruthenian who called himself "Belarusian" was also not Orthodox, but a famous Calvinist writer Salomon Rysinski (Solomo Pantherus Leucorussus, ca 1569-1626). Rysinski who was born in the district of Vitsebsk, or according to his words "in richly endowed with forests and animals Ruthenia near the border to frigid Muscovy" doctorates the University of Altdorf and after returning home took position of teacher at the Radziwill court [68]. So called "an ethnic Lithuanian" Janusz Radziwill, was an enthusiastic reader of Ruthenian books from the library of Orthodox monastery in Suprasl [69]. As representative of magnates Janusz Radziwill owned patrimonies in different ethnic districts and was brought up in Lithuanian and Ruthenian parts by turns. Therefore, his identity developed on perception of the state belonging to the whole Duchy. Being the grandson of Wasyl Ostrozki the main protector of Orthodoxy Radziwill considered his duty to support the Orthodox Church. Despite all these facts, modern Belarusian researchers blame the Protestants for Polonization [70]. Indeed, the Polish language became dominant in the circle of Belarusian Protestants, but together with simultaneous self-Polonization during the 17th century of all confessional groups of nobility including Orthodox.

The Commonwealth wars with Russia and Sweden (1654-67) became a disaster for Belarus and Lithuania. The GDL lost 48, 4 % of its population. In the eastern Belarusian part this number reached 72 % [71]. The Muscovite and Ukrainian Cossack troops seized all Cyrillic printing houses and destroyed several Protestant religious and cultural centres. Moreover these wars marked the end of the Protestant-Orthodox political cooperation. When the war started between the Commonwealth and Russia-Ukraine, the Protestant nobility tried to establish the secret relations with Sweden [72]. Janusz Radziwill and Boguslaw Radziwill supported by Protestants nobility, asked the Swedish king Charles X to help the GDL politically to break away from Poland. The Swedish Army took the western part of the GDL (present day Lithuania and Northwest Belarus). In October 20, 1655, the union of Kedainiai was signed, according to which historical Lithuania broke its relations with Poland and was united with Lutheran Sweden into a federal state [73]. It was not by accident that the Belarusian merchants from Vilnius ("ryska kopman av Vilna") supported the alliance of the GDL and Sweden.

In turn, from the up nobility who signed the Kedainiai union, an absolute majority were Protestants. At the same time the greatest Ruthenian magnates Samuel Statkiewicz, Jan Oginski, Samuel Ogi?ski and Simon Oginski collaborated with Russia or Ukrainian Hetmanate. Thus after these wars, the Protestants and Orthodox could be accused of collaboration with the two main enemies of Poland: Sweden and Russia. The strong anti-Protestant and anti-Orthodox propaganda campaign started. The Catholic Church treated the Swedish and Russian invasion as God's revenge for allowing the Protestants and Orthodox to live calmly. Eventually most of the Protestant nobility converted to Catholicism, also taking with them the parishes situated on their lands, as well as many of their subjects. The last Protestant senator Jan Sosnowski converted to Catholicism in 1664. In 1667, the Orthodox senator Alexander Oginski died. He was last senator in the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth who was not a Catholic. In 1669, the last Orthodox magnate Marcjan Oginski forced to convert to Catholicism. He had to choose between Roman Catholic and Greek-Catholic Church [74]. Without patrons the Protestant and Orthodox churches were subject to attacks by Catholics. From 1678 and for more than 10 years the only remaining Orthodox province of Belarus was without any bishop at all [75].

At the end of the 17th century the Protestant and Orthodox nobility gradually attained the status of insignificant religious minority. The counter-reformation was successful [76]. At the same time about 15 Calvinist students from the GDL studied in the universities of Western Europe: four persons at Leiden University; three at Marburg University; two at the University of Frankfurt am Oder, and two at the Berlin Joachimstal gymnasium [77]. Under these domestic conditions many of non-Catholic Belarusian intellectuals had only two possibilities: either to accept Catholicism or to leave the country. Many of them chose emigration. Protestants moved to the West and the Orthodox to the only Orthodox state in Europe - Muscovy. The most interesting that some of Belarusian Protestants immigrated to Moscow where they enlarged the number of outstanding cultural workers of Russia. Among them were Illa Kopiewicz (1651-1714), the major publisher of Slavonic books in Western Europe and the author of the modern version of the Cyrillic alphabet and Jan Manuel Byaloboczky (about 1650- after 1700), a famous writer and translator [78]. At the same time a large Grand Duchy Protestant community was created in Prussia and existed until 1767 when religious freedom was again proclaimed in the Commonwealth and the last Protestants returned historical home. All that time Konigsberg had a printing house and a Calvinist church that belonged to the Lithuanian Unity and used Polish language as a lingua franca.

In the 18th century, the idea of Protestant-Orthodox alliance becomes urgent again. In 1710, during the Great Northern War, a leader of Protestants, a Belarusian noble Michal Wolk-Laniewski elaborated a program of political struggle for the rights of dissidents. This program was aimed in most part at the political union with the Orthodoxy. In 1735 a delegation of dissidents visited St. Petersburg with the requests of help. It is significant that the delegation was represented by all three oppressed confessions: Calvinism, Lutheranism and Orthodoxy. At all this, a Calvinist noble Alexander Hulewicz represented the interests of Orthodoxy [79]. At the same time, Prussia-Brandenburg diplomacy begins to starts to bring into play the dissidents card. The text of the 1599 Vilnius agreement was found in the Secret Archive of Berlin [80]. The 1767 confederation of Slutsk became the culmination of the policy of neighbour states. On Russian money about 800 Protestant nobles and the last Orthodox noblemen (Jozefowizc, Bulhak and Czernyszew) arrived to Slutsk. The bishop of Belarus Hrehory Konisski presided over the meeting in Latin. On March 18 1767, 130 participants decided to sign the act of the confederation with the demand from Warsaw to resume the religious liberties and with the request to the governments of Russia, Prussia and Sweden for foreign aid [81]. The Slutsk confederation symbolized the beginning of the process of disappearance of the GDL from the political map of Europe. At the same time this was the last in history fact of cooperation between the Protestants and the Orthodox. In modern Belarus between these two confessions there is not a shadow of former cooperation. At the time when administration announced the Orthodoxy the leading spiritual confession of Belarus the Protestants of different denominations are strongly oppressed by both state machine and Orthodox propaganda.


1. During the 19th -beginning of the 20th century two modern national projects (Belarusian and Lithuanian) created on the former soil of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Many of the representatives of the historical Grand Duchy gentry took part in both movements. See more in: Kotljarchuk, Andrej. 2004. The tradition of Belarusian Statehood: a war for the past. Contemporary Change in Belarus. Baltic and Eastern European Studies. Volume 2. Sodertorns University College. P. 41-72.

2. See: Varonin, Vasil. 1998. Political system of Polatsk voivodship in the first half of the 16th century. Belarusian Historical Review. V.5. Fascicle 1 (8). Minsk, p. 27-66.

3. Mallek, Jerzy. 1996. Polscy i litewscy studenci na uniwersytecie krolewieckim. Polska i jej wschodni sasiedzi od sredniowiecza po wspolczesnosc. Torun, p. 179.

4. Hrushevskii, Mikhajlo. 1995. Istoria Ukraini-Rusi. T. VI. Kyiv, p. 422-425.

5. Liedke, Marzena. 2002. Szlachta ruska Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego a Reformacja. Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No. 18. Available from Internet: http://kamunikat.net.iig.pl/www/czasopisy/bzh/index.htm

6. Liedke, Marzena. 2002. Szlachta ruska Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego a Reformacja. Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No.18. Available from Internet: http://kamunikat.net.iig.pl/www/czasopisy/bzh/index.htm

7. Lastouski, Vaclau. 1926. Historya belaruskaj (kryuskaj knihi). Sproba pajasnitselnaj knihapisi ad kantsa X da pachatku XIX stahodzdzia. Kouna (Kaunas). P. 383-395.

8. Luksaite, Inga. 1999. Reformacija Lietuvos Didziojoje Kunigaikstysteje ir Mazojoje Lietuvoje. Vilnius; Kriegseisen, Wojciech. 1996. Ewangelicy Polscy i Litewscy w Epoce Saskiej. Warszawa, p.100-101.

9. The Polish brethren: documentation of the history and thought of Unitarianism in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth and in the diaspora, 1601-1685. Edited, translated and interpreted by George Huntston Williams. In: The proceedings of the Unitarian historical society. Vol. XVIII. 1978-79. Cambridge, Mass. P. 373-374.

10. Kosman, Marceli. 1977. Programme of the Reformation in the grand Duchy of Lithuania and how it was carried through (ca. 1550-ca.1650). Acta Poloniae Historica. No. 35., p. 29.

11. See the last publication in: Ukrainskaya literatura XIV-XVI st. Kyiv, 1988. P. 194-197.

12. See Malyshevskii, Ivan. 1878. Podlozhnoe pismo Polovtsa Ivana Smerdy k kievskomu kniazu Vladimiru Sviatomu. In: Trudy III arkheologicheskogo s'ezda v Rossii. T. 2. Kiev, p. 307-316.

13. Williams, George. 1978. Protestants in the Ukraine during the period of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Harvard Ukrainian Studies. 2(2) June, p. 195.

14. Padokshyn, Siamion. 2000. Uniya, dziarzhaunasts, kultura. Minsk, p. 57, 71.

15. "Lithuanian Metrica". Book 73, p. 508-509. The National Historical Archives of Belarus. KMF 18. Vopis 1. Sprava 73.

16. Kosman, Marceli. 1977. Programme of the Reformation in the grand Duchy of Lithuania and how it was carried through (ca. 1550-ca.1650). Acta Poloniae Historica. No. 35., p. 43.

17. Lulewicz, Henrik 1977. Sklad wyznaniowy senatorow ?wieckich Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego za panowania Wazow. Przeglad Historyczny. T. LXVIII, Z. 3., p. 425-445. table 1.

18. See the text in: Unia v dokumentakh. Minsk, 1997. No 106, p. 300-307. and the last article on this topic: Oljan?yn, Domet. 1936. Zur frage der Generalkonfederation zwischen Protestanten und Orthdoxen in Wilna 1599. Kyrios. no. 1., p. 27-46.

19. Zhukovich, Pavel. 1901-1912. Sejmovaya borba pravoslavnogo zapadno-russkogo dvorianstva s tserkovnoj uniej (1596-1632). In eight volumes. St. Petersburg; Chodynicki, Kazimierz. 1934. Ko?ci?? prawos?awny a Rzeczpospolita Polska. Zarys historyczny 1370-1632. Warszawa, 376-385.

20. Liedke, Marzena. 2001. Suviazi Aginskikh z pratestantstvam u pershaj palovie 17 st. Histarychny Almanakh. Volume 5. Hrodna, p. 105-112.

21. See: Kniha Bielarusi. Zvodny kataloh. 1517-1917. Minsk, 1986. No. 70-79, 99-100, 117-123. 128-129, 136-137, 152, 158-160.

22. Khmialnitskaja, Lena. 1995. Rod fundatarau i metsenatau. Ahinskija. Vitsebski sshytak, no.1. p. 42-47.

23. Lulewicz, Henryk. 1984. Elita polityczno-spoleczna Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego w polowie XVII wieku. Praca doktorska. Unpublished manuscript. Warszawa, p. 74.

24. Kempa, Tomasz. Wilenskie bractwo sw. Ducha jako centrum obrony prawos?awia w Wielkim Ksiestwie Litewskim w koncu XVI i w pierwszej polowie XVII w. Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No. 21., p. 47-69.

25. Augustyniak, Urszula. 1997. Zrodla do badania stosunk?w wyznaniowych i narodowosciowych w WKL XVII w. w Archiwum Warszawskim Radziwillow. Miscellanea Historico-Archivistica. T. VII. Warszawa, p. 158 .

26. In 1655, during the war of Sweden against the Commonwealth, prince Valdemar Christian became an officer at the Swedish service and died in 1656 near Lublin.

27. Oparina, Tatyana. 1998. Ivan Nasedka i polemicheskoe bogoslovie Kievskoj mitropolii. Novosibirsk, p. 235. The prince Valdemar Christian and Danish diplomats have got this information directly from Janusz Radziwill. The Danish embassy moved to Moscow via Lithuania and Janusz Radziwill met them in Vilnius. See: Kotlubaj, Edward. 1859. Zycie Janusza Radziwilla. Wilno-Witebsk, p. 73-74.

28. Kempa, Tomasz. Wilenskie bractwo sw. Ducha jako centrum obrony prawoslawia w Wielkim Ksiestwie Litewskim w koncu XVI i w pierwszej polowie XVII w. Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No. 21., p. 65.

29. Panucevic, Vaclau. 2000. Sviaty Jazafat, arkhiiapiskap polatski. Polatsk, p. 135-150.

30. Arkhiu unijatskikh mitrapalitau. Davednik. Minsk-Polatsk. 1999. P. 53.

31. Kosman, Marceli. 1978. Protestanci i Kontrreformacja. Z dziejow tolerancji w Rzeczypospolitej XVI-XVIII wieku. Wroclaw, p. 84.

32. Kotljarchuk, Andrej. 2002. Shvedy u historyi i kultury belarusau. Minsk, p. 62-63.

33. Degiel, Rafal. 2000. Protestanci i Prawoslawni. Patronat wyznaniowy Radziwillow birzanskich nad Cerkwia prawoslawna w ksiestwie Sluckim w XVII w. Warszawa, p. 83.

34. Akta Seymu Walnego Elekcyi Nowego Krola r. 1648. In: Prawa, Konstytucye y Przywileie Krolewstwa Polskiego, Wielkiego Xiestwa Litewskiego y wszystkich prowincyi nalezacych. Volumen Quartum (4). Ab anno 1641 ad annum 1668. 1859. St. Petersburg, p. 85-87, 96-97.

35. Augustyniak, Urszula. 2001. Dw?r i klientela Krzysztofa Radziwilla (1585-1640). Miechanizmy funkcjonowania patronatu. Warszawa, p. 125.

36. Spisok bratstva pri tserkvi Bogoiavlenia Gospodnia Mogileva (1634-1734). Arkheograficheskij sbornik dokumentov, otnosiashchikhsia k istorii Severo-Zapadnoj Rusi. Vilna. 1871. Tom 5., p. 125-126.

37. Kriegseisen, Wojciech. 1996. Ewangelicy Polscy i Litewscy w Epoce Saskiej. Warszawa, p. 107.

38. Szilafyi, Sandor . 1891. Erdely es az eszakkeleti haboru, levelek es okiratok. Transsylvania et bellum boreo-orientale. Acta et documenta. T. 2, Budapest, 72-73.

39. See: Stopnie doskonalosci Lutherskiey. Wiln. 1623; Witanie na pierwszy wiazd z Krolewca do Kadlubka Saskiego Wilenskiego Ixa Her N. Lutermachra: na wlasne kleynoty Lutermachra. Drukowano w Witembergu roku 1642 dnia wczorayszego. Witemberg [in fact in Wiln]. 1642; Chadzynski, Jan. 1619. Suplikacya Zboru Wilenskiego: Do Herr Martyna Luter za x. Mikolaiem Burchardem ministrem swym, ktory w sobote po kury lazac z drabiny spadl y szyie zlamac raczyl. Wilna; Chadzynski, Jan. 1623. relacya a oraz supplika Zboru Wilenskiego: Do Herr Martyna Luter za predikantem BurchardymWilna; Chadzynski, Jan. 1624. Taiemna rada, abo Exorbitantiae niektore Samuela Dambrowskiego superuspendanta confusij szachskiey, od pewnych osob teyze sekty do pospolstva Lutherskiego...pisal Phil. Han, pomogal Karzel zloty, korrigowa? Murzyn mlody. Wilna; Koleda paniom saskim. Wilna. 17th century print.

40. Kempa, Tomasz. Wilenskie bractwo sw. Ducha jako centrum obrony prawoslawia w Wielkim Ksiestwie Litewskim w koncu XVI i w pierwszej polowie XVII w. In: Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No. 21., p. 56.

41. See i.e.: Cora Iairowa zmarla od Chrystusa w zbudzona na pogrzebie cney y pobozney panny Anny Debowskiey szlachetnego pana Marcina Debowskiego aptekarza y mieszczanina Wilenskiego przez x. Andrzeia Schonflisiusa kaznodzieie Wilenskiego Confess. Aug. Jewie. [Print by the Vilnius Orthodox brotherhood typography]. See: Ivanovic, Maria. 1998. XVII a. Lietuvos lenkiskos knygos. Kontrolinis sarasas. Vilnius, no. 587.

42. Kriegseisen, Wojciech. 1996. Ewangelicy Polscy i Litewscy w Epoce Saskiej. Warszawa, p. 91.

43. Bendel, Heinrich. 1924. Magister Johannes Herbinius. Ein Gelehrtenleben aus dem XVII. Jahrh. Bern.

44. Herbinius, Johannes. 1675. Religiosae Kijovienses Cryptae, sive Kijovia Subterranea: in quibus labyrinthus sub terra, et in eo emortua, a sexcentis annis, Divorum atque Heroum Graeco-Ruthenorum, & nec dum corrupta, corpora, ex nomine atque ad oculum, e PATERIKO sclavonica detegit. Jena. See facsimile in: Seventeenth-century writings on the Kievan caves monastery. With an introduction by Paulina Lewin. Harvard library of early Ukrainian literature. Cambridge Mass. 1987.

45. Sakowicz, Kasjan. 1640. Kalendarz stary, w ktorym jawny y oczywisty blad. Wilna. See several editions of the Protestant calendars for years 1654-1657, see: Ivanovic, Maria. 1998. XVII a. Lietuvos lenkiskos knygos. Kontrolinis sarasas. Vilnius, no. 167-170.

46. Liedke, Marzena. 2002. Szlachta ruska Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego a Reformacja. Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No. 18. Available from Internet: http://kamunikat.net.iig.pl/www/czasopisy/bzh/index.htm

47. Dmitriev, Mikhail. 1996. Izmeneniya v kulturnoj i idejnoj zhizni Rechi Pospolitoj v epokhu Reformatsii i pravoslavnoe obshchestvo. Brestskaya uniya 1596 i obshchestvenno-politicheskaya borba na Ukraine i v Belorussii v kontse XVI -nachale XVII vv. Ch. 1. Brestskaya uniya 1596 g. Moscow, p. 42-60.

48. Degiel, Rafal. 2000. Protestanci i Prawoslawni. Patronat wyznaniowy Radziwillow birzanskich nad Cerkwia prawoslawna w ksiestwie Sluckim w XVII w. Warszawa, p. 151.

49. Ivanova, Ludmila. 1997. Refarmacyjny rukh na Bielarusi. Belaruski histarychny chasopis. No 2, p. 67.

50. Ivanova, Ludmila. 1995. Z historyi refarmacyjanaj tsarkvy u Vitsebsku u druhaj palove XVI-XVII stst. Vitsebski shytak. No. 1., p. 41-45.

51. Augustyniak, Urszula. 2001. Dwor i klientela Krzysztofa Radziwilla (1585-1640). Miechanizmy funkcjonowania patronatu. Warszawa, p. 230.

52. Ivanova, Ludmila. 1995. Z historyi refarmacyjanaj tsarkvy u Vitsebsku u druhaj palove XVI-XVII stst. Vitsebski shytak. No. 1., p. 41-45.

53. Augustyniak, Urszula. 1997. Zrodla do badania stosunkow wyznaniowych i narodowosciowych w WKL XVII w. w Archiwum Warszawskim Radziwillow. Miscellanea Historico-Archivistica. T. VII. Warszawa, p. 165, note 66.

54. Degiel, Rafa?. 2000. Protestanci i Prawoslawni. Patronat wyznaniowy Radziwillow birzanskich nad Cerkwia prawoslawna w ksiestwie Sluckim w XVII w. Warszawa, p. 101.

55. See: Liedke, Marzena. 2002. Szlachta ruska Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego a Reformacja. Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No. 18. Available from Internet: http://kamunikat.net.iig.pl/www/czasopisy/bzh/index.htm

56. Yakovenko, Natalia. 2002. Paralelni svit. Doslidzhinnia z istorii uiavlen ta idej v Ukraine XVI-XVII st. Kyiv, p. 306.

57. Marzaljuk, Ihar. 2002. Nasha "Kieuskaj" i "Litouskaj" spadchyna. Spadchyna. No 5-6.

58. Augustyniak, Urszula. 2001. Dwor i klientela Krzysztofa Radziwilla (1585-1640). Miechanizmy funkcjonowania patronatu. Warszawa, p. 200. 59. Chodynicki, Kazimierz. 1934. Kosciol prawoslawny a Rzeczpospolita Polska. Zarys historyczny 1370-1632. Warszawa, p. 376-385.

60. Kempa, Tomasz. Prawoslawie i unia we wschodnich wojewodztwach WKL w koncu XVII w. Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No. 22. p. 23.

61. Kempa, Tomasz. Prawoslawie i unia we wschodnich wojewodztwach WKL w koncu XVII w. Bialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne. No. 22. p. 35.

62. Pradmovy i paslasloui pasladounikau Francyska Skaryny. Minsk, 1991. p. 25.

63. Pradmovy i paslasloui pasladounikau Francyska Skaryny. Minsk, 1991. p. 33-35.

64. Statut Vialikaha kniastva Litouskaha 1588. Minsk, 1989, p. 28.

65. Pomniki memuarnaj litaratury Belarusi XVII st. Minsk. 1983, 32.

66. Nazarevskii, Alexander. 1911. Evangelie 1581 goda v perevode W. Niegaliewskogo. Universitetskie izvestia. Kiev. No. 8. 20-40. No. 11. 79-110. No. 12. 119-136. Here is no. 8., p. 20-23.

67. Poretskii, Jakov. 1983. Salomon Rysinski. Solomo Pantherus Leucorussus, konets XVI -nachalo XVII veka. Minsk.

68. Scchavinskaj Larisa. 1999. Jazykovoj fenomen cheloveka polsko-vostochnoslavianskogo-litovskogo pogranichja XVII veka: Vilniuskij voevoda Janusz Radziwill-chitatel kirilicheskikh tekstov. Studia Russica. Volume 17. Budapest, 129-132.

69. Ivanova, Ludmila. 1997. Refarmacyjny rukh na Bielarusi. Belaruski histarychny chasopis. No 2, p. 72.

70. Morzy, Jozef. 1965. Kryzys demograficzny na Litwie i Bialorusi w II polowie XVII wieku. Poznan, Table 23.

71. Kotljarchuk, Andrej. 2004. The Diplomatic relations between Sweden and Ukraine in 1654-1660: Swedish historiography and sources. (In Russian).

72. Ukraina i sosednie gosudarstva v XVII veke. Materialy mezhdunarodnoj konferentsii. St. Petersburg State University Press, 2004. P. 90-107.

73. Kotljarchuk, Andrej. 2005. The pro-Swedish Advisory Council of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1655-1656: the origin, structure and fate of members. Faworyci i opozycjonisci. Krol a Elity polityczne w Rzeczypospolitej XV-XVII wieku. Materialy konferencji naukowej zorganizowanej przez Zamek Krolewski na Wawelu, Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego, Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu Slaskiego w dniach 15-17 listopada 2004. Pod red. Ryszarda Skowrona; Zamek Krolewski na Wawelu. Krakow. Forthcoming.

74. Lulewicz, op. cit., p. 443.

75. Sahanovicz, 2001. Narys historyi Belarusi. Ad starazhytnastsi da kantsa XVIII st. Minsk, p. 291-292.

76. Mironowicz, Antoni. 1997. Prawoslawie i unia za panowania Jana Kazimierza. Bialystok; Actually we can say that there was only one Protestant centre remains. It was Slutsk which belonged to the emigrant Boguslaw Radziwill (until 1669) and his daughter Ludwika Szarlotta Radziwill (1667-1695), who lived in Prussia and then finally her husband Karl Philipp Neuburg.

77. Lukaszewicz, Jozef. 1843. Dzieje kosciolow wyznania helweckiego w Litwie. T.2. Poznan, p.171-173.

78. Nikolaev, Nikolay (Nikalaeu, Mikola). 1998. Byl li prav v svoiom donose Pavel Negrebetskii. Belorusskii sbornik. Vypusk 1. St. Petersburg, p. 101-106.

79. Kriegseisen, Wojciech. 1996. Ewangelicy Polscy i Litewscy w Epoce Saskiej. Warszawa, p. 228-231.

80. Lukaszewicz, Jozef. 1842. Dzieje kosciolow wyznania helweckiego w Litwie. T. 1. Poznan, p. 394-395.

81. Anishchanka, Jauhien. 2003. Litouskaya pravintsya u padzelakh Rzeczypospolitaj. Inkarparatsya. Minsk, p. 102-104.

English version

New Testament and Chants (1931) (in Belarussian)
Katechizis. Niesvizh, 1562
'Spadchina', 2003, 1
The conference 'Reformation and Golden Age of Belarus', 2003
Protestant church and national movement (in Belarussian)

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