Part I

Lithuania and Poland

In the beginning the union between Lithuania and Poland served both countries. Jogaila gave full sovereign rights over Lithuania to his cousin Vytautas for as long as he lived. After the death of Vytautas, Lithuania and the lands that belonged to her were to be returned to the king and the kingdom of Poland.

However, after Vytautas’ death, there was a crisis in the relations between the two countries. The Poles gave the Lithuanians the opportunity to select their own Grand Prince when they sent Casimir, a thirteen year old son of Jogaila, to Lithuania. The Lithuanian nobles, without asking the Poles, immediately chose him as their Grand Prince in 1440. In 1444 Vladimir, the King of Poland and Jogaila’s oldest and only other living son, died, making Casimir the legal heir to the throne of Poland.

Only after long negotiations did the Lithuanians agree to allow their Grand Prince to become the Polish king as Casimir IV, to rule both Lithuania and Poland. In 1454 Casimir married Elizabeth of Austria. Of their thirteen children, four were to become kings: Ladislaus ruled over Bohemia and Hungary, while John, Albert and Alexander successively took over the reigns of Lithuania and Poland. Another son, Casimir, was to have a great impact on Lithuania. While a youth in Cracow he acquired a deep understanding of his Lithuanian language, culture and history, and later spent extended periods in Lithuania. A very humble and pious person, Casimir achieved sainthood and became the patron saint of Lithuania.

St. Casimir, oil, by Adomas Galdikas, in St. Anthony's High School From ART COLLECTION
St. Casimir, oil, by Adomas Galdikas, in St. Anthony’s High School. From ART COLLECTION.



Lithuanian Americans and Their Communities of Cleveland Copyright © 2020 by Cleveland State University . All Rights Reserved.

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