The Brief Chronicle of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Vasil Varonin

The article analyses a sample of the 16th century Belarusian-Lithuanian chronicles, The Brief Chronicle of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It has not been studied on its own in special literature so far. The Brief Chronicle had a complicated history. It was copied, edited and supplemented with new information more than once. At present there are three copies of the manuscript available, which differ to a considerable extent. The most thorough version covers the events from the 14th century to 1567. It includes brief records of the events of political, military and church history of the Grand Duchy of Litva (Lithuania). The manuscript was created in the Grand Duchy’s capital city Vilnia. Its author was a Catholic by faith. So far the attempts to identify more precisely either the author’s personality or even the intellectual community where the Brief Chronicle was written have not been successful. There are two versions regarding the way this manuscript was created. According to the first one, it is an abridged copy of the second complete Belarusian-Lithuanian collection of chronicles with certain new data added. In this case the Brief Chronicle was compiled in the 1550s. According to the second version, the second Belarusian–Lithuanian collection of chronicles was written basing on the Brief Chronicle. Then the latter dates from the 1530s or the 1540s.

It has been worked out that the 16th century Polish historian Maciej Stryjkowski borrowed the information about the Lithuanian occupation of Połacak in 1307 directly from the Brief Chronicle. The text analysis has made it clear that this piece of information appeared as the result of some mistakes. This fact is not confirmed by other sources. For this reason, the version that Połack finally merged with the Grand Duchy of Litva (Lithuania) in 1307, which is taken for granted by the contemporary Belarusian historiography, should be rejected. 

   The text is supplemented with a reconstructed protograph of the manuscript and a brief historical commentary.