|Voivodeship of Grand Duchy of Lithuania (part of the federative Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth since 1569)|
Vilnius Voivodeship in red. Voivodeship's borders did not change since the Union of Lublin.
|44,200 km2 (17,100 sq mi)|
|Political subdivisions||counties (aka. pavietas, powiat): five|
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (February 2022)
The Vilnius Voivodeship (Latin: Palatinatus Vilnensis, Lithuanian: Vilniaus vaivadija, Polish: województwo wileńskie, Belarusian: Віленскае ваяводства) was one of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania's voivodeships, which existed from the voivodeship's creation in 1413 to the destruction of the Lithuanian state in 1795. This voivodeship was Lithuania's largest, most politically and economically important.
The core of the Vilnius Voivodeship was the Vilnius County, which was composed of the Vilnius Bailiwick (Lithuanian: Vilniaus tijūnija), which was composed of the manors of Vilnius, Nemenčinė, Švenčionys, Dysna and other places, in addition to almost all of Lithuania on both side of Neris. Also included was the Breslauja Viceroyalty (Lithuanian: Breslaujos vietininkija), Svir, the lands of the dukes Giedraičiai and the counties of the so-called Lithuanian Rus', which included Maladzyechna, Hajna, Minsk, Barysaw, Rechytsa, Svisloch, Propoysk‑Chachersk. In the Upper Dnieper, the Vilnius Voivodeship had half of the Horval, Liubushany and Babruysk parishes, whose remaining part belonged to the Trakai Voivodeship. From Vitebsk's lands, the Vilnius Voivodeship received Mogilev, which belonged to the Grand Duchess of Lithuania, Knyazhytsi, Tyatseryn and Aboltsi. Moreover, the Principalities of Halshany, Kletsk, Novogrudok, Slutsk, Trobos and Izyaslavl were part of the Vilnius Voivodeship. Novogrudok became a separate Voivodeship in 1507.
The Vilnius Voivodeship was the location of many large estates. These were centred on the following places and owned by those families: Goštautai owned Hieraniony, the Radziwiłłs had Nyasvizh and Dubingiai, Zaberezinskiai had Zaberezinas, while the Astikai had Vyžuonos.
In 1566, during the administrative and judicial reforms of 1564–66, Vilnius Voivodeship was divided into the counties of Vilnius, Ashmyany, Braslaw, Lida (assigned from Trakai Voivodeship), Vilkmergė. Simultaneously, Vitebsk' lands, the Upper Dnieper, most of the Lithuanian Rus', the Principalities of Kletsk and Sluck were separated from the Vilnius Voivodeship.
After the partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Vilnius Voivodeship was occupied by the Russian Empire. Most of the territory became the Vilna Governorate. In 1843, its northern part was assigned to Kovno Governorate.
After World War I, the lands of the former Vilnius Voivodeship were fought over by the Lithuanian Army, Central Lithuania with its Army, the Polish Army, and the Red Army. Following the annexation of Central Lithuania by Poland, during the Interwar, most of the former Voivodeship ended up under the Second Polish Republic while the rest was ruled by Lithuanians. According to the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty in 1920, most of the former voivodeship should have been part of Lithuania. After World War II, the occupying Soviet Union assigned most of the voivodeship's territory that was previously under Polish rule to the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Geography and administrative division
Geographically the area was centred on the city of Vilnius, which had always been the capital of the entity and the seat of a voivode. However, the actual territory of the voivodeship varied over time. Together with the Trakai Voivodeship it was known as Lithuania propria. Until the partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth the voivodeship, also known as a palatinate, was composed of five counties (Lithuanian: plural - pavietai, singular - pavietas):
The Voivode of Vilnius was ranked first in importance among the secular members of the Lithuanian Council of Lords. In the voivode hierarchy of Poland-Lithuania, established by the Union of Lublin in 1569, the Voivode of Vilnius, who was also a senator of the Polish–Lithuanian Sejm, took the fourth place and the Castellan of Vilnius - the sixth place.
- Gudavičius, Edvardas (1999). Lietuvos istorija (in Lithuanian). Vol. 1 - Nuo seniausių laikų iki 1569 metų. Vilnius. ISBN 9-986-39-111-3.
- Gudavičius, Edvardas (2022). "Vilniaus vaivadija". Vle.lt (in Lithuanian). Archived from the original on 24 February 2022.