WITOWT, or Witold (1350-1430), grand-duke of Lithuania, son of Kiejstut, prince of Samogitia, first appears prominently in 1382, when the Teutonic Order set him up as a candidate for the throne of Lithuania in opposition to his cousin Jagiello (see Wladislaus), who had treacherously murdered Witowt's father and seized his estates.
Nevertheless, subsequent attempts on the part of Poland to subordinate Lithuania drove Witowt for the third time into the arms of the Order, and by the treaty of Salin in 1398, Witowt, who now styled himself Supremus Dux Lithuaniae, even went so far as to cede his ancestral province of Samogitia to the knights, and to form an alliance with them for the conquest and partition of Pskov and Great Novgorod.
The result was a whole series of wars with the Teutonic Order, which now acknowledged Swidrygiello, another brother of Jagiello, as grand-duke of Lithuania; and though Swidrygiello was defeated and driven out by Witowt, the Order retained possession of Samogitia, and their barbarous methods of "converting" the wretched inhabitants finally induced Witowt to rescue his fellow-countrymen at any cost from the tender mercies of the knights.
Livonia they held after 1237; and during the 14th century they gained the Lithuanian territory of Samogitia, which lay between Livonia and their Prussian dominions, while they also added, to the west of the Vistula, Pomerellen and the Neumark (see under Prussia).
Olgierd was succeeded by his son Jagiello as grand duke in 1377, while Kiejstut was left in possession of Samogitia, Troki and Grodno; but the Teutonic Order, alarmed at the growth of Lithuania, succeeded in estranging uncle and nephew, and Kiejstut was treacherously assassinated by Jagiello's orders, at Krewo, on the 15th of August 1382.
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