Lew Sapieha

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Lew Sapieha
Great Hetman
Grand Chancellor
Coat of armsLis
Born4 April 1557
near Vitebsk, Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Died7 July 1633(1633-07-07) (aged 76)
Vilnius, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Noble familySapieha
Spouse(s)Dorota Firlej
Halaszka Radziwiłł
Issuewith Dorota Firlej
Katarzyna Sapieha
Krzysztof Sapieha
Jan Stanisław Sapieha
Andrzej Sapieha
with Halaszka Radziwiłł
Anna Sapieha
Krzysztof Michał Sapieha
Kazimierz Leon Sapieha
FatherIwan Sapieha
MotherBohdana Drucka Konopka

Lew Sapieha (Lithuanian: Leonas Sapiega; Belarusian: Леў Сапега, romanizedLieŭ Sapieha; 4 April 1557 – 7 July 1633) was a nobleman and statesman of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. He became Great Secretary of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1580, Great Clerk of the Grand Duchy in 1581, Crown Chancellor in 1585, Grand Chancellor from 1589 until 1623, Voivode of Vilnius in 1621, Great Lithuanian Hetman in 1623 and governor of Slonim, Brest and Mogilev.

Sapieha is considered as a great political figure of the Commonwealth. A rich and powerful magnate, he was known for his wisdom as a statesman, lawyer and military commander, he was one of the greatest leaders of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the times of the Duchy's highest cultural flourishing. He was of Ruthenian ethnicity.[1][2] Modern Belarusian sources interpret his Ruthenian heritage as Belarusian.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Astroŭna (Belarusian: Астроўна), near Vitebsk.[9] He was educated in Leipzig and worked in the royal chancellery of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stephen Báthory under direction of Jan Zamoyski. Raised Eastern Orthodox, in his youth he converted to Calvinism and founded a number of Calvinist churches in his former estates. In the 1570s he turned to Unitarianism. Disillusioned by the squabbles within the Protestant camp, in 1586 he converted with his first wife to Roman Catholicism of which he became a zealous defender. After the Union of Brest he enforced conformity on the unwilling Eastern Orthodox.

Career and politics[edit]

He supported a political union with Muscovy in 1584–1600 and led the diplomatic mission to Moscow in 1600 that proposed the union to tzar Boris Godunov, who declined the proposal. He also participated in wars with Muscovy under rule of Stephen Báthory and King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund III Vasa. He became an adviser of Sigismund III and supported his radical plans to take over the Muscovite throne and reclaim Smolensk by force.[10]

He participated in establishing the Lithuanian Tribunal in 1578.[11]

As Chancellor he was the main editor and publisher of the last version of the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[11] He laid grounds for the establishment of the Law Faculty in the University of Vilnius, which was created in 1641.

He was co-initiator and a participant in the military expedition to Moscow in 1618 by King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Władysław IV.

As Sejm Marshal he led the ordinary Sejm in Warsaw from 4 October to 25 November 1582. He was a benefactor of many catholic churches in the Grand Duchy. He established the long-term power and wealth of the Sapieha family.

Sapieha died on 1633 and was interred in the cellars of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Vilnius, which he himself commissioned.[12] His tomb remains there to the present day and is still the largest piece of art of its kind in the territory of Lithuania.



  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-02. Retrieved 2012-12-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-02. Retrieved 2012-12-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Саверчанка І.В. Канцлер Вялікага княства. Леў Сапега, Мн., Навука і тэхніка, 1992, с.63.
  4. ^ Чаропка В. Бацька Айчыны. Леў Сапега. ў кнізе «Уладары вялікага княства», Мн., Беларусь, 1-е издание 1996, 2-ое издание 2002, с.327-408.
  5. ^ Редактор: Тарас А. Е, Вялікі беларус Леў Сапега: Зборнік артыкулаў, 2012, Издательство: Інстытут беларускай гісторыі i культуры ISBN 978-9984-897-03-5
  6. ^ "Лев Сапега (БЕЛАРУСЬ)". Library.by. 2010.
  7. ^ "Прокопчук Артур Андреевич. Беларусь - 1000 Лет Истории В Женских Образах".
  8. ^ "Прафесар Крыштаповіч: Радзівілы, Сапегі, Агінскія не маюць нічога супольнага з беларускай ментальнасцю — відэа".
  9. ^ "Jivebelarus.net".
  10. ^ "Leonas Sapiega: liūtas ar lapinas?". ldkistorija.lt. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Leonas Sapiega". šaltiniai.info (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  12. ^ a b Howard Jarvis, Neil Taylor (2006) Vilnius with Kaunas, Bradt Travel Guides, pp. 112–113