Ignas Jonynas

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Ignas Jonynas
Born (1884-01-24)January 24, 1884
Atesninkai (lt), Suwałki Governorate, Congress Poland
Died July 14, 1954(1954-07-14) (aged 70)
Kaunas, Lithuania
Nationality Lithuanian
Alma mater University of Moscow
University of Grenoble
Occupation Diplomat, historian, professor
Employer Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania
University of Lithuania
Vilnius University

Ignas Jonynas (January 24, 1884 – July 14, 1954) was a Lithuanian diplomat, historian, and university professor. As a diplomat he is known for negotiations with the Second Polish Republic and League of Nations regarding Vilnius Region. As a historian he specialized in the history of Lithuania in the 13–16th centuries and lectured at the University of Lithuania and Vilnius University from 1924 until his death. He published little, but had a formative influence on subsequent generations of historians.[1]


From 1904, Jonynas studied history at the University of Moscow under Matvei Kuzmich Liubavskii, an expert on Lithuanian Metrica—medieval archives of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[2] Liubavskii's critical approach to historical sources greatly influenced Jonynas. Jonynas participated in the Russian Revolution of 1905 and thus had to transfer to the University of Grenoble to study French language and literature.[2] He also attended lectures on history at the University of Berlin. Acquitted by Russian courts, he returned to Moscow to finish his studies. After graduation in 1911 he worked as a school teacher in Noginsk and Moscow until 1919.[2]

At the end of World War I, he returned to Lithuania and joined the People's Commissariat of Education of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.[3] After the failure of the Soviet government, he lived in Vilnius, worked as a school principal, and opposed Polish ambitions in the city. For a few months in mid-1920 he was the chief Lithuanian commissioner in the Vilnius Region.[4] After the 1920 Żeligowski's Mutiny, during which Polish forces captured Vilnius, Jonynas moved to Kaunas and joined the control commission of the League of Nations to negotiate the dispute over the Vilnius Region.[4] After the diplomatic efforts failed in 1922, Jonynas continued to be employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania until 1929. From 1924 until his death he lectured at the University of Lithuania and Vilnius University, attaining professorship in 1932.[5]


As a historian, Jonynas wrote little convinced that his works were not properly researched[2] or that everything was already written by somebody else.[1] He contributed articles on Lithuanian dukes, nobles, treaties, and other topics to the Lithuanian Encyclopedia, the first universal encyclopedia in Lithuanian language.[5] He studied and translated from Latin De moribus tartarorum, lituanorum et moscorum (posthumously published in 1966). His most important work was a study on family of Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1392 to 1430.[5] However, Jonynas helped to form a new generation of Lithuanian historians and raised their level of professionalism. He always critically analyzed primary sources and dismissed secondary sources—thus helping to rid Lithuanian historiography of mistakes, medieval legends and myths, foreign biases and stereotypes.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Minuotojas klysta tik vieną kartą. Mečislovas Jučas atsako į Aurimo Švedo klausimus". Naujasis židinys-Aidai (in Lithuanian). 5–6 (197–198): 226–236. 2007. ISSN 1392-6845. 
  2. ^ a b c d Sužiedėlis, Simas (1970–1978). "Jonynas, Ignas". In Sužiedėlis, Simas. Encyclopedia Lituanica. II. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 547–549. LCC 74-114275. 
  3. ^ a b Merkys, Vytautas (1985–1988). "Jonynas, Ignas". In Zinkus, Jonas; et al. Tarybų Lietuvos enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). 2. Vilnius: Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija. p. 129. LCC 86232954. 
  4. ^ a b Janužytė, Audronė (2005). Historians as Nation State-Builders: the Formation of Lithuanian University 1904-1922 (PDF). Tampere University Press. p. 42. ISBN 951-44-6312-9. 
  5. ^ a b c "Jonynas, Ignas". Žymūs Kauno žmonės: atminimo įamžinimas (in Lithuanian). Kauno apskrities viešoji biblioteka. Retrieved 2010-12-12.