Principality of Smolensk

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Grand Principality (Duchy) of Smolensk
(minor duchy of Kievan Rus' to 1278, since 1404 part of Lithuania)
Великое княжество Смоленское
Capital Smolensk
Languages Old East Slavic
Religion Eastern Orthodox Church
Government Principality
Grand Prince of Smolensk Mikhail Rostislavich
Legislature Veche
 -  Established 1054
 -  Incorporation into Lithuania 1387

The Principality of Smolensk (eventually Grand Principality of Smolensk) was a Kievan Rus' lordship from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. Until 1127, when it passed to the Rostislavichi, the principality was part of the land of Kiev.


The principality passed between the descendants of Grand Prince Iaroslav I of Kiev until 1125, when following the death of Vladimir Monomakh the latter's grandson Rostislav Mstislavich was installed in the principality, while the latter's father Mstislav I Vladimirovich became the Rus' over-king. It gained its own bishopric, the Bishop of Smolensk, in 1136.

It was Rostislav's descendents, the Rostaslavichi, who ruled the principality until the fifteenth-century. Smolensk enjoyed stronger western ties than most Rus' principalities. The principality contained a number of other important cities which usually possessed subordinate status, notable among which were Bryansk, Vyazma and Mozhaysk. The principality gradually came under Lithuanian overlordship in the fourteenth-century, being incorporated in the fifteenth. After the union between Lithuania and Poland, it passed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita), becoming the Smolensk Voivodeship. In the seventeenth-century the Rus' under Russian control attempted to bring the city into their expanding state, and despite the defeat of the "Smolensk War" (1632–1634), captured the city in 1654. The Russian success was partially aided by the distraction caused to the Rzeczpospolita by the revolt of Dnieper Cossacks known as the Khmelnytsky Uprising.


The famous trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks passed through the principality and was an important source of income for its rulers. The trade with Riga and Visby developed in the second half of 12th and 13th centuries. Wax was the main export followed by honey and furs; the main imports from Europe were textiles and, later, salt, delicacies and wine.[1]

List of rulers[edit]

Main article: Prince of Smolensk


  • Franklin, Simon, and Shepard, Jonathan, The Emergence of Rus, 750-1200, (Longman History of Russia, Harlow, 1996)
  • Martin, Janet, Medieval Russia, 980-1584, (Cambridge, 1995)
  1. ^ Алексеев, Л. В. (1980). Смоленская земля в IX-XIII вв. (in Russian). Moscow: Наука. pp. 64–93. 

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