List of rulers of Lithuania
The following is a list of rulers over Lithuania (grand dukes, a king and presidents), the heads of authority over historical Lithuanian territory. The timeline includes Lithuania as a sovereign entity or legitimately part of a greater sovereign entity, as well as Lithuania under control or occupation of an outside authority (i.e. Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic). The incumbents and office-holders are listed by names most commonly used in English language. Where appropriate, the alternatives in Lithuanian, Ruthenian (later Belarusian) and Polish are included.
The state of Lithuania was formed in the 1230s: when threatened by the Livonian Order in the north and the Teutonic Knights in the west, the Baltic tribes united under the leadership of Mindaugas. He became the only crowned king of Lithuania. His state became known as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After Grand Duke Jogaila became also king of Poland in 1386, the two states became more closely connected, and from 1440 both were ruled by a common ruler. In 1569 the Union of Lublin was signed and a new entity—the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth—emerged. The commonwealth was partitioned in 1795 and Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire until 16 February 1918. The Council of Lithuania was able to establish the country's sovereignty only in 1919, after the end of World War I. The first republic of Lithuania existed until 1940, when it was occupied by the Soviet Union. During the Soviet-German War, Lithuania was occupied by Nazi Germany. In 1944, as Germany was losing the war, Russia re-occupied Lithuania and established the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence. The restored Republic of Lithuania is a democratic republic, a member of both the European Union and NATO.
Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1236–1569)
House of Mindaugas (1236–1268)
Dates are approximate because of scant written sources.
|c. 1236–1263||Mindaugas||Initially Grand Duke, from 1253 King of Lithuania. After he was killed by his nephew Treniota, a war between nobles for power erupted.|
|1263–1265||Treniota||Grand Duke 1263–1264 nephew of Mindaugas|
|1265–1268||Vaišvilkas||Son of Mindaugas, voluntarily gave up the throne in favour of his brother-in-law Švarnas.|
House of Mindaugas (1269–1285)
House of Gediminas (1285–1440)
Some dates are approximate.
|1285–1291||Butigeidis||Founder of the Gediminid dynasty|
|1291–1295||Butvydas||Brother of Butigeidis, father of Vytenis and Gediminas|
|1295–1316||Vytenis||Son of Butvydas|
|1316–1341||Gediminas||Son of Butvydas. After his death, the domain was divided between his seven sons.|
|1341–1345||Jaunutis||Son of Gediminas. Overlord and Grand Duke, deposed by his brothers Algirdas and Kęstutis.|
|1345–1377||Algirdas||Son of Gediminas. His co-ruler was Kęstutis, who was active in the west. Algirdas was mostly active in the east.|
|1377–1381||Jogaila||Son of Algirdas. Crowned the King of Poland in 1386 and established the personal union of Lithuania and Poland. Founder of the House of Jogailaičiai.|
|1381–1382||Kęstutis||Son of Gediminas, co-ruler with Algirdas. Kęstutis ruled western Lithuania (with its capital in Trakai). He deposed Jogaila in 1381 and took control of the whole of Lithuania, only to be captured and killed by him the next year.|
|1382–1392||Jogaila||Also King of Poland 1386–1434. His governor in Lithuania was Skirgaila (1387–1392).|
|1392–1430||Vytautas the Great||Son of Kęstutis. He joined his father in the fight against Jogaila, then changed sides and became Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1392. He was to be crowned King of Lithuania in 1429, but the crown intended for him was seized at Polish-German border by the Poles. He died before the second crown arrived.|
|1430–1432||Švitrigaila||Son of Algirdas, brother of Jogaila. Deposed by followers of Žygimantas, son of Kęstutis.|
|1432–1440||Sigismund Kęstutaitis||Son of Kęstutis, brother of Vytautas. Killed by Švitrigaila's supporters.|
House of Jagiellon (1440–1569)
The act of personal union with Poland was signed as early as 1385; however, the continuous line of common rulers of the two countries started only with Casimir IV (even then, Polish and Lithuanians twice selected different rulers following the death of an earlier common monarch, but the Lithuanian one always eventually assumed the Polish throne). The monarchs retained separate titles for both parts of the state, and their numbering was kept separate. The Jagiellon dynasty was a direct continuation of the Gediminids.
|1440–1492||Casimir IV Jagiellon||Son of Jogaila. Elected and crowned King of Poland in 1447 after the death of king Władysław III of Poland|
|1492–1506||Alexander I||Son of Casimir IV. Elected and crowned King of Poland in 1501 after the death of king John I Albert|
|1506–1548||Sigismund I the Old||Son of Casimir IV.|
|1548–1569||Sigismund II Augustus||Son of Sigismund I the Old. De facto ruler since 1529.|
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795)
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was established by the Union of Lublin in 1569. The elected King of Poland was automatically a Grand Duke of Lithuania (until then the Lithuanian dukedom was hereditary). The first common ruler of both countries was Sigismund II Augustus. Following the partitions in 1772, 1793, and 1795, the commonwealth ceased to exist and Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire for 123 years. There are some gaps in the timeline as it took a while to elect a new king. The first Grand Duke elected after the Gediminid line became extinct and after the Valois fled back to France was Stephen Báthory, who had made an effort to be recognized as Grand Duke of Lithuania by establishing Vilnius University.
Title: King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania
Lithuanian: Lenkijos karalius ir Lietuvos didysis kunigaikštis
Polish: Król Polski, wielki książę litewski
Latin: Rex Poloniae et Magnus Dux Lituaniae
|1569–1572||Sigismund II Augustus||Jagiellon||Son of Sigismund I the Old.|
|1573–1575||Henry of Valois||Valois||He abandoned the throne and fled to France, where he was crowned as King Henry III.|
|Anna Jagiellon||Jagiellon||Daughter of Sigismund I the Old.|
|1576–1586||Stephen Báthory||Báthory||Received the title jure uxoris since he was married to Anna Jagiellon; |
|1588–1632||Sigismund III Vasa||Vasa||Proponent of a personal union between The Commonwealth and Sweden, King of Sweden between 1592 and 1599.|
|1632–1648||Władysław IV Vasa|
|1648–1668||John II Casimir Vasa||Abdicated and became a monk, last of the Vasa dynasty in Poland-Lithuania.|
|1669–1673||Michael Korybut Wiśniowiecki||Lithuanian nobility|
|1674–1696||John III Sobieski||Polish szlachta|
|1697–1706||Augustus II the Strong||Wettin||Also Elector of Saxony as Frederick Augustus I.|
|1706–1709||Stanisław Leszczyński||Polish szlachta||Great Northern War|
|1709–1733||Augustus II the Strong||Wettin||2nd reign|
Also Elector of Saxony as Frederick Augustus I.
|1733–1736||Stanisław Leszczyński||Polish szlachta||2nd reign|
War of Polish Succession
|1733–1763||August III Wettin||Wettin|
|1764–1795||Stanislaus August II||Polish szlachta||During his reign the merger of the Grand Duchy with the Kingdom of Poland was passed in 1791; abdicated following the Partitions of Poland; died in exile in Russia.|
Kingdom of Lithuania (1918)
The Council of Lithuania declared independence on 16 February 1918 and invited Wilhelm of Urach to become king of Lithuania. The name of the state was the Kingdom of Lithuania. On 9 July 1918, Duke Wilhelm accepted the offer and took the name Mindaugas II. However, on 2 November the council revoked this decision as it was likely Germany would lose the war.
|11 July – 2 November 1918||Mindaugas II
|House of Urach||Government change to a democratic republic.|
State of Lithuania (1918–1920)
State of Lithuania was ruled by the Presidium of the State Council of Lithuania, its chairman was de facto Head of State. Institution of Presidium of the State Council of Lithuania was changed into President's[clarification needed] on 4 April 1919. Chairman of the Presidium Antanas Smetona was elected as First President of the State of Lithuania by the State Council of Lithuania.
|-||2 November 1918 – 4 April 1919||Antanas Smetona||President of the Presidium of the Council of Lithuania.|
|1||4 April 1919 – 19 June 1920||Elected as the President of Lithuania by the Council of Lithuania.|
Republic of Lithuania (1920–1940)
The institution of President (Lithuanian: Prezidentas) was created on 4 April 1919.
|2||19 June 1920 – 7 June 1926||Aleksandras Stulginskis||Acting President (as Constituent Assembly). Reelected by the Seimas on 21 December 1922 and in June 1923.|
|3||7 June – 18 December 1926||Kazys Grinius||Elected by Parliament, but overthrown by a military coup d'état.|
|-||18–19 December 1926||Jonas Staugaitis||Formally, for one day, as the head of Seimas (renounced the office after the coup d'état).|
|-||19 December 1926||Aleksandras Stulginskis||Formally, as the new head of Seimas, only for several hours.[Is this notable?]|
|(1)||19 December 1926 – 15 June 1940||Antanas Smetona||Second term, elected president after a military coup d'état. After the Soviet ultimatum of 1940, Smetona travelled to Germany, then to Switzerland and then to the United States. He did not sign any Soviet-given documents, unlike Latvian and Estonian Presidents who did so under duress, to legitimize the occupation of Lithuania and upon leaving he hoped to form a government in exile. In the United States, he was active in public and sought to unite the Lithuanian Americans and all other Lithuanians abroad to call attention to Lithuania's occupation until his death in 1944.|
|-||15–17 June 1940||Antanas Merkys||The Prime Minister, de facto acting president after Smetona's departure. Not recognised by Lithuanian diplomats abroad; he assumed the role of president illegally, as Smetona had neither resigned nor died.|
|-||17 June – August 1940||Justas Paleckis||Chosen unconstitutionally by leaders of the Lithuanian communists under pressure from the Soviet Union, not recognized internationally nor by the Lithuanian diplomatic service.|
|-||16 February 1949 – 26 November 1954||Jonas Žemaitis||Officially named as the fourth (acting) President of Lithuania in March 2009.|
|-||26 November 1954 – 29 November 1957||Adolfas Ramanauskas||Officially named as the Head of State in November 2018.|
Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (1940–1941 and 1944–1990)
The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania and established the Lithuanian SSR in July 1940. As Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Lithuania was occupied by the Germans. For a few days before the German occupation, Lithuania was ruled by pro-German rebel government of Juozas Ambrazevičius. Under the Germans, the General District of Lithuania was governed by the administration of general Petras Kubiliūnas. As Nazi Germany retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied the country and reestablished the Lithuanian SSR in 1944.
Title: First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos komunistų partijos Centro komiteto pirmasis sekretorius; Russian: Первый секретарь Центрального Комитета Коммунистической партии Литвы).
|1||21 July 1940 – 24 June 1941
13 July 1944 – 22 January 1974
|2||18 February 1974 – 14 November 1987||Petras Griškevičius|
|3||1 December 1987 – 19 October 1988||Ringaudas Bronislovas Songaila||First leader of the party to be deposed of his power (Sniečkus and Griškevičius held office until their death)|
|4||19 October 1988 – 11 March 1990||Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas||Lost power as independence was declared|
The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet acted as a collective head of state from 25 August 1940 to 11 March 1990.
|Term||Chairman of the Presidium
of the Supreme Soviet
|1||25 August 1940 – 14 April 1967||Justas Paleckis||In exile in Russian SFSR 1941–1944|
|2||14 April 1967 – 24 December 1975||Motiejus Šumauskas|
|3||24 December 1975 – 18 November 1985||Antanas Barkauskas|
|4||18 November 1985 – 7 December 1987||Ringaudas Songaila|
|5||7 December 1987 – 15 January 1990||Vytautas Astrauskas|
|6||15 January 1990 – 11 March 1990||Algirdas Brazauskas|
Republic of Lithuania (1990–present)
The leader of the Supreme Council was the official head of state from the declaration of independence on 11 March 1990 until the new Constitution came into effect in 1992 establishing the office of President and the institution of Seimas. The state and its leadership were not recognized internationally until September 1991 [NB: Iceland was the first country to recognise the regained independence of Lithuania in February 1991.
|Elected||Took office||Left office||Political party||Affiliation/Notes|
|–||11 March 1990||25 November 1992||Sąjūdis||As Chairman of the Supreme Council.|
|Speaker of the Seimas Algirdas Brazauskas served as acting President from 25 November 1992 to 25 February 1993.|
|1993||25 February 1993||25 February 1998||Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania||First president of the Republic of Lithuania|
|1997–98||26 February 1998||26 February 2003||Independent|
|2002–03||26 February 2003||6 April 2004||Order and Justice||Impeached and removed from office.|
|Speaker of the Seimas Artūras Paulauskas served as acting President from 6 April to 12 July 2004.|
|2004||12 July 2004||12 July 2009||Independent|
|12 July 2009||12 July 2019||Independent||First female President of Lithuania. Became the first President to be reelected.|
|2019||12 July 2019||Incumbent||Independent|
- Jakubavičienė, Ingrida. "Istorijos puslapiai: kaip A. Smetona prezidentavo pasitraukęs iš Lietuvos". Kauno diena (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Lietuvos okupacija (1940 m. birželio 15 d.)". LRS.lt. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
- "Jonas Žemaitis-Vytautas". istorineprezidentura.lt. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
- "XIII-1651 Dėl Adolfo Ramanausko-Vanago pripažinimo Lietuvos valstybės vadovu" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas. 20 November 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
- "Lithuania: "Thank you, Iceland!". Archived from the original on 8 March 2016.
- History, Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
- (in Lithuanian) Vytautas Spečiūnas (ed.), Lietuvos valdovai (XIII-XVIII a.) (Rulers of Lithuania (13–18th centuries)), Mokslo ir enicklopedijų leidybos institutas, Vilnius 2004. ISBN 5-420-01535-8