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The History "key page" of Lyakhovichi Shtetl website

This is the key page of our History section. All history articles in this section are linked in the right-hand column of this page in the table "Articles on the History Pages".

We continue to search for new articles and reprinted materials that could better inform us about the five hundred year residency of Jews in Lyakhovichi. If you have written or come across a relevant article, please contact the webmaster!

Publications of Lyakovichi Shtetl Website:
Title Chain of the City of Lyakhovichi
by Deborah G. Glassman, copyright 2004

The title of this document is somewhat misleading. Title abstracts are based on an examination of documents stored in a legal repository and this article does not meet that standard. This is a reconstructed chain of title that began by examining a history of Lyakhovichi published on the Russian language site maintained by the current Belarus town of Lyakhovichi garod. It lists a number of the owners, but with the exception of the transfer from the King of Poland Sigismund Augustus in 1572, it does not provide dates, or consideration, or type of transfer. My contribution was to look at published details on the records of Lithuanian nobility: the Princes of the Gostautas, Chodkewiesz, Sapieha, and Massalsky families; and then to find when they got their property and in what manner they transferred it. We are aided by the nature of the Lithuanian nobility, who were anxious to conserve estates for the next generation. We are also assisted by the fact that the owners of Lyakhovichi were not the lower gentry or even just one of the “great magnate houses” but the major leaders in Lithuanian history from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The first owner whose name was clearly connected to the town, was Albert Marcin Gostautas, one of the most powerful men in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the fifteenth century. We can document him receiving a privilege for Lyakhovichi in 1492. Further investigation revealed that he had inherited his estates from his grandfather, Jan Gostautas who had helped Vytaut the Great, consolidate his Grand Duchy. Jan Gostautas was Chancellor of the Grand Duchy - his power was enormous and only surpassed by that of Vytaut the Great, himself. Jan Gostautas managed to pass this power and influence down to his son and grandson, but even as they added more titles like Hetman, Lead Military Commander,et al, their power probably never matched his.

It was critical that not one, but nine Lead Military Commanders owned Lyakhovichi (not including King Sigismund Augustus who traded it to his Chief Military Commander). Lyakhovichi’s fortifications were not the normal small town wall. It was a true fort with walls, earthen works, ditching, drawbridges, et al. Building and maintaining those defenses was a major preoccupation of the nobility. But these owners were not so concentrated on the bottom line of defense that they did not look to other aspects of town management. In 1495 one of the Gostautas’ exercised his rights as a noble, to not to expel Jews from his private holdings when the Grand Duke of Lithuania expelled all the Jews of Lithuania. When the Jews were readmitted to Lithuania in 1503, nobles like Gostautas patted themselves on the back for not giving in to ducal whims. Grand Hetman Jeronim Chodkewiesz owned a number of towns the year he acquired Lyakhovichi. Documentation shows he invited merchants and craftsmen to settle in those places.

In June 2005, we added the pictures of all of the title-holders which we have so far found. We continue to look for more relevant information on these people and actual documents of title transfer including: deeds, wills, estate inventories, privileges, leases, arendas, et al. Having reconstructed a chain of title, the odds are much better of us finding them but we need your help! Please forward any relevant information to the Webmaster by clicking Contact

Receipt And Grantored Name Key Events - Life Key Events - Town

From: sometime in 14th century


Grantored:1382 at death

Kestutis of the Gedimin Family

His dates are usually given as if he died in his 90s actively fighting a war of succession with his brother who had him assassinated after he successfully fought off invaders. The assassination is not in doubt, but various sources call him brother, son, or nephew to Algird, Grand Duke of Lithuania, son of Gedimin. It seems likely that this member of Gedimin's family has had his birth date confused with that of Gedimin's son with a similar name, Kerjutis. SEE our page Research Tools - National Jurisdictions - The Grand Dukes of Lithuania


What is not disputed is that Kestutis was the owner of the city and lands around the old fortified towns of Troki, Novogrodek, Gernainys, and Osmena. They are referred to as part of his inheritance from Gedimin. Kestutis was not a Christian and had repulsed attempts to convert him, and the settlement in his walled-fort cities, of Jews and Moslems from Kiev and Crimea, were attributed variously to Gedimin, Kestutis, and Kestutis's son Vytaut.

From: 1382/90s

As part of father’s estate; but civil war for part of the time


Grantored:1430s either just prior to or after his death

Vytaut, aka Vytautas, aka Witold, but always called "the Great"
Grand Duke of Lithuania

Vytaut is one of the key figures in both Lituanian and Belarussian history, each group claiming him,and the nation he made powerful, as the one to which they logically succeed.

Ladislas II, King of Poland and cousin to Vytaut, had arranged the murder of Vytaut's father Kestutis. Consequently, Vytayt, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and Ladislas, the King of Poland, were at war for a dozen years. Vytaut reigned from 1391 to 1400 independently and in 1401 came to an agreement with Ladislas II that confirmed Vytaut's title and then Vytaut reigned for another thirty years.


All of the fortified towns that had been his father's were held by Vytaut in arms against his cousin Jogaila son of Algird who had become King of Poland as Ladislas II (aka Ladislas Jagiello).

Several land grants dating back to Vytaut have been found, but none naming Lyakhovichi, specifically. Lyakhovichi, Novogrodek, Gernainys, and Osmena, were towns in an area that was called the Palatinate of Troki in this time period, and Vytaut referred to that larger area, as his inheritance from Kestutis. Later, his chancellor, Jan Gostautis, claimed to be Palatine (the official in charge of a palatinate) of Troki by right of the king’s grant from this patrimony. Gostautis’s family kept this title simultaneously to that of its claim on Lyakhovichi, until the middle of the sixteenth century.

The Moslem Tatar community of Lyakhovichi and the Jew's "kalter shul" in Lyakhovichi each claimed a five hundred year old history in the town at the end of the nineteenth century and each might well date to a founding in the reign of Vytaut 1391-1432!

From 1430s when Vytaut died


Grantored 1458 when Jan Gostautas died

Jan Gostautas

(aka John

Gasztold )




Chancellor of Lithuania from 1443-58. Defacto ruler of Lithuania for two decades. He made his old noble family, the Gostautas, the leading family of Lithuania in the fifteenth through sixteenth centuries. He had been born in Vilna and died there in 1458. His estate, including Lyakhovichi went to his last surviving son that year.

In the 1430s Jan Gostautas received title to a large number of estates in compensation for services to the State, some before Duke Vytaut died, and some properties after. It is not clear whether the title “Palatine of Troki” was a grant received from the king or his estates and Lyakhovichi was closely tied to that ducal property. The title “Palatine of Troki,“ was held in the Gostautas line from the 1430s until the last male heir died in the 1540s, at which date Lyakhovichi was known to be included in the transfer of the estate from the Gostautas family. This is not to say that all of the lands of the Palatinate, the jurisdiction run by the Palatine, were recognized as his property. Lyakhovichi has not yet been found in records of this time period. His grandson is the first to be remembered to the modern period as an owner of Lyakhovichi.


From 1458

Grantored 1483 when Marcin Jan Gostautas died

Marcin Jan Gostautas 1428-1483 m. Anna Holszanska Dubrowicka

Chancellor of Lithuania 1470s-1479; Palatine of Troki; Vovoide of Novogrodek 1464-1474

In the 1460s Marcin Gostautas arranged the repair of the wooden fort and surround at Lyakhovichi

From 1483

Grantored by deed 1537 to his son Stanislas Gostautas or by his death in 1539

Albrecht Marcin Gostautas aka A.M. Gasztold


m.1506 Sophia Wierejska – she was born in the viciniity of the town of Lyakhovichi in an area later called: Baranovich- Novogrode”

Palatine of Troki (his son just Palatine of Troki Castle)

Military commander who repelled the Tartars at Novogrodek and was made Vovoide of Novogrodek 1503-1506,1508.

1518 defeated Moscow Army. Became Chancellor (highest office in Lithuania) and Leader of the Council of Lords in 1522.

1537 His son Stanislas marries Barbara Radziwill daughter of George Radziwill.

1539 Albrecht Gostautas died and was buried in the Cathedral in Vilnius. His estate is transferred to his son who had also received some property earlier. Not clear if Lyakhovichi was transferred in 1537 or 1539,; the Radziwill family was said to have required certain properties to be transferred to Albrecht’s son Stanislas at his marriage to Barbara Radziwill.

1492 received from Grand Duke Kazimeirz.of Lithuania the right to hold fairs at Lyakhovichi

1495 Grand Duke Alexander orders expulsion of Jews from Lithuania. Some noblemen see this as an infringement of their rights. Some of the expelled go to Poland and some to the lands of nobles who give them temporary residence. It is in response in part, to this infringement of the nobles’ rights by Alexander, that the nobility passes right to veto his laws in the Sejm.

1503 Jews invited to return to all of Duchy of Lithuania because of their support of war against Moscow

1507 Jews of city of Brest granted rights, liberties, and obligations in a privilege by the Grand Duke. It became model for rights. Other towns in the surrounding communities around Brest, near Lyakhovichi, grant similar rights (but we have no info on whether Lyakhovichi does).

1514 Jews in every city and town of the Grand Ducy of Lithuania granted “the privilege” modeled on that of the Jews of Brest.

From 1537


Grantored 1542 to his widow at his death

Stanislas Gostautas aka Stanislav Gosztold.

1507-1539 born in “Nowogrodek near Baranovice

Palatine of Troki Castle

Vovoide of Novogrodek 1530-1542

We do not know if he received the property by a deed prior to his father’s death or by the transfer of the estate. Stanislas married Barbara Radziwill in 1537 and died in 1542, without children. After his death it was part of the assets of his widow Barbara, who then married Sigmund Augustus the King of Poland.

From 1542

Grantored 1551 at her death to her 2 nd husband, Sigmund Augustus, King of Poland

Barbara Radziwill 1520-1551

Daughter of the Hetman Jerzy Radziwill she helped her family’s dynastic ambitions by first acquiring the Gostautas fortune, then becoming successively mistress and queen of Sigmund Augustus. As she had brothers, her family’s fortune was not at risk even if, as she did, she died without children and her husband became her heir.

She received Lyakhovichi sometime between 1537 and 1542 from her first husband. It was hers when she died. She was survived by her second husband Sigmund Augustus who had become King of Poland in 1548 and inheritied the lands she inherited from her first husband.

A Jew from Lyakhovichi is mentioned in the legal court records of Kaunas in the 1550s.

From 1551

Grantored to his lead military commander in 1572

Sigmund Augustus


He became King of Poland in 1548.

He was instrumental in creating the Union of Lublin between Poland and Lithuania. He supported religious tolerance. He was a proponent of reforming the sejm, improving the navy, and expanding education. He died without children and after his death, Poland began electing kings, usually choosing a foreigner who could not build an internal power base.


His second wife was the widow of Stanislas Gostautas and passed the estate she had inherited from her first husband, to her second. Sigmund Augustus owned it from her death in October 1551 until he deeded it to nobleman Jan Yeronimovichem Chodkiewisz in exchange for the community of Svisloch in 1572

1564 King Sigmund Augustus responded to a horrific charge of ritual murder in nearby Brest-Litovsk in 1564 by banning the charge forever, saying all such charges were groundless

From 1572

Grantored 1579 by his death to his oldest son

Jan Jeronim Chodkiewisz

(last name also spelled as Katkevicius),

called Jeronim

Jeronim was of the leading Lithuanian magnates. He was Great Hetman of Lithuania from 1566-1572.

He appears in every Polish history for the key roles he played at many junctures.

He died in 1579 and the property moved through his estate to his eldest son, Jan Karl Chodkiewisz (also called Charles Chodkiewisz in modern histories.)

He took a very proactive position in building up his settlements’ commercial and infrastructure resources. In his towns, of Skuodas Lithuania, he followed the same pattern – invite in craftsmen and merchants, provide a charter of rights.
1572 New settlers including Jewish craftsmen and merchants welcomed into Chodkiewisz settlements (possibly including Lyakhovichi)

As military commander he had seen the value of the Lyakhovichi fortress and traded his town of Svisloch for Lyakhovichi. He began renovating the ancient ramparts, earthenworks, and defense perimeter. Later his son would expand on that vision and rebuild out of stone.

1579 1621

Jan Karol Chodkiewicz

1560-1621, called Karol

Leading Lithuanian Noble, Supreme Commander of the Union forces of Poland and Lithuania. “Great Hetman” from 1605-1621. Celebrated military figure who defeated Swedes, Russians, and Turks but died fighting the Turks in 1621. At that point all of his property transferred to his daughter Anna, who was married to the son of the powerful Lew Sapieha aka Lev Sapiega.

He brought his military skills to Lyakhovichi’s service too. He first brought the wooden fort to a high level of readiness that let them repel Cossack invaders through the winter of 1595-1596. He then in 1602 began replacing the wooden structure with a stone fort, that would be considered among the strongest of its kind in the Polish/Lithuanian Union. The stone fort lasted a hundred years when it fell before the Swedes because all of its artillery weapons had been sent to defend Slutsk.

1621 1625

Anna Scholasyka Chodkiewicz


Anna married Jan Stanislav Sapieha son of Lew Sapieha. Her inheritance became part of the Sapieha estate when she died at just 21. Her husband remarried in 1631 and that wife died shortly after also. Neither her husband nor his siblings had children and the estate passed to another Sapieha line and Lyakhovichi remained part of the Sapieha estate until the estate was sold by the Sapiehas in 1760 to the nobleman Michael Joszef Massalski.

The city’s defenses were tested in the Cossack, peasant uprisings from 1648-1654. It successfully repelled invaders but suffered immense damage. All but 17 houses destroyed. A long siege in 1660 was resisted. But siege, famine, and disease killed 40% of everyone in Lithuania in those years.

1648 There was no interest among the relatives of Lithuania’s Hetman (Military Commander) in surrendering the city, or its fortifications to the Cossacks, so the Jews were not used as bargaining chips and they were spared that horror of the Khmelnitsky Massacres. During Russian-Polish War 1654-1667, Lyakhovichi was only city not invested by Russians and so again the cossacks were kept out

1625 1635

Jan Stanislav Sapieha


Chancellor of Lithuania from 1621-1635. His father had been the most powerful man of his time and he himself had risen to the highest civil position. But his sons by each of his wives died in childhood and he left no children. More, because his mental health was not good towards the end of his life and he survived his father by only two years, his father had made arrangements for the securing of the properties. If Jan died or was incompacitated, the property would go to his brother Kazimierz. If Kazimierz died, it would pass to the line of Lev Sapieha's father's brother's descendants. Kazimeirz survived Jan, but in the end, the estate moved to the cousin line as Lev Sapieha had foreseen.


1635 1656

Kazimierz Leon Sapieha


He like his brother died without surviving descendants. Becaus few of his siblings had survived childhood and the last of the survivors had also died, much of the estate went to his second cousin Jan Pawel Sapieha who had also been a strong political ally. Not clear if the estate passed by deed or by will. But Pawel Jan Sapieha's will did bequeath other of the Chodkewicz estate, because in it he bequeathed the books he had inherited from his cousin’s kinsman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, to Vilnius University


1656 1665

Pawel Jan Sapieha

1610-1665, called Jan

Hetman of Lithuania 1656. When the family of his powerful cousin Lew Sapieha (Jan’s father Jan Piotr Sapieha was the son of Pawel Sapieha who was the brother to the father of Lew Sapieha) had no surviving heirs in 1656 and no closer kin in the male lines, Jan Pawel Sapieha inherited those estates. He and his son were the leaders of the family as it moved into a solid position as Lithuania’s leader until the very last days of the seventeenth century.

Sapieha used his close ties to the Polish King to free Lyakhovichi and surrounding rural communities from taxes for nine years beginning in 1661. His son got the crown to renew the procedure for another nine years in the early 1670s in consideration of devastation from the wars that Lyakhovichi had undergone as a fortress city.

1665 1720

Kazimir Jan Sapieha


Great Hetman and Lith. Field Hetman from 1680s.

Lithuanian power struggle set lower nobles (the gentry) opposed to the Sapiehas into open warfare. They attacked Sapieha estates across the country in 1698 when they met Sapieha returning from the wars with Russia. The Grand Duke of Lithuania negotiatied a truce and Saxon armies safe-guarded Sapieha estates near Livonian border. The lower nobles and the magnates then formed a confederation at the Lith town of Valkininkai (a town near Vilnius) and defeated the Sapieha forces in the field, ending the power of this family and making it so no one family had comparable power for the last remaining century of Polish-Lithuanian Union. The offices of this family were divided out among the victors, but the estates including Lyakhovichi remained in Sapieha possession.

1670s – Lyakhovichi released from taxes for another nine year term.

1698 – Sapieha family lost ability to make decisions regarding the defenses of Lyakhovichi, just as the the Great Northern War was about to break out in 1700. (lasted to 1721).

In 1703 the Polish Legislature removed two dozen artillery pieces from the Lyakhovichi fort which had been the only one to hold out against Moscow in the previous wars. The pieces were sent to the Slutsk fortress. Without those pieces, a six month siege against Lyakhovichi in 1706 ended up in the fortress being overrun when food and powder was gone. The Catholic Church and the fort were burned by the Swedish forces.

1720 1732

Jerzy Stanislas Sapieha


Eldest of four siblings, only a younger brother was living when Jerzy inherited the major portion of the estate from his father Kazimir Jan Sapieha. When Jerzy died in 1732 he had a son and 3 daughters living. By 1739, the son had died without issue and only 2 of the daughters were left. Title transferred first to the son and then to the surviving unmarried daughter. We do not know if the transfer of title was disputed by the married daughter or her in-laws.

1732 1739

Antoni Sapieha

d. 1739

He was married but left no children when he died. The estate went to his unmarried sister, Krystina Rose Sapieha. It seems, since that it went to the youngest sister while an older sister was living that it probably was by deed or by the specifications of a will rather than by intestate proceedings.


1739 1760

Krystina Rose Sapieha


Krystina Rose Sapieha was the last unmarried sibling when her brother died without children. She had one older sister living who had been married twice and who in 1742 married Jerzy Radziwill. Radziwill might have expected to inherit the sizeable Sapieha estate in the event that Krystina died without children.

Krystina Rose married in 1745 to Kazimir Massalski. Since when she inherited she was an unmarried heiress, we would expect to see substantial documentation in the surviving records.

She had no surviving children between 1745 and 1760 and in 1760 she transferred the city and its fort to her father-in-law who was trying to develop national defense resources.

There were two major political camps among the nobility in the 1750s, 1760s. One supported the rights of the Nobility and a weak central government. The other supported a strong monarchy, with an army, economic powers, and an ablility to engage foreign nations. Though most Sapiehas were of the first group, Krystina’s father-in-law was of the second group. This becomes important in Lyakhovichi history, when Krystina who had no surviving children in fifteen years of marriage, transfers the Lyakhovichi property with its fortifications to her father-in-law who was trying to marshal forces to create a stronger monarchy. He was in a unique position to so use Lyakhovichi, as Hetman and Military Commander of Lithuania.

1760 1768

Michael Jozef Massalski


m.Franciska Oginsky

He was a Field Hetman of Lithuania from 1744-1762 and the Great Hetman of Lithuania from 1762-1768. He was a supporter of creating a strong monarchy to deal with the growing and encroaching empires around the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom. He supported economic development, reforming the Sejm, and increasing the size of the standing Army. But his son, Ignaz Massalski, the Bishop of Vilna would become so closely associated with the Russian faction, that his position was later assumed to be that of a Russian supporter who supported venal nobility politics over the strength of an independent Poland.

In 1760, he acquired a key piece of the Sapieha estate from his daughter-in-law, the city of Lyakhovichi and its fortifications.

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania took a Census of its cities in 1764 including Lyakhovichi (where over 700 individual Jews were enumerated).


The Polish-Lithuanian Republic

The Polish-Lithuanian Government was given the city, for its use in its fortifications, by Michael Jozef Massalski. But the government had no tradition of national property, everything was owned by individual noble families. It was easy for the Bishop of Vilna, Ignacy Jacob Massalski, as the son of Michael Jozef Massalski, to make a claim on it, but he was a bishop and military fortifications owned by a prince of the Church, were not acceptable in eighteenth century Poland-Lithuania. Ignacy Massalski was a member of the the "Russian party," those who favored Russian rule instead of an independent king in Poland-Lithuania. He arranged the transfer of Lyakhovichi to his close friend and ally, Syman Marcan Kossakowski, who could use the fortifications to aid Russia in its efforts to bring down the government of Poland.

Ignacy Massalski was a political bishop, and he made allies who would help him advance Russia's interests over Poland-Lithuania. Citing the tradition of Sigismund Augustus's transfer of fortifications to his hetman, he had the government sign off on thetransfer to the Grand Hetman, Syman Marcan Kossakowski. Both Ignacy Massalski and Symon Kossakowski were later hanged for the treason they demonstrated against the Polish-Lithuanian Republic.

1793 1794 at his death

Syman Marcan Kossakowski Hetman of Lithuania

m.Teresa Potocki

Lithuanian Field Hetman then Great Hetman of Lithuania 1792-1793 and 1793-1794. Kossakowski and his brothers and brother-in-law Felix Potocki were of the political party that Russia had supported, to overthrow constitutional government in Poland.

Among the leadership were Kossakowski, his brother-in-law Potocki, and a close friend to Kossakowski, Ignacy Massalski, son of the previous title-holder of Lyakhovichi, Michael Jozef Massalski. Kossakowski and Potocki were generals and Massalski a bishop. Political maneuvering among this group secured a number of assets including Lyakhovichi to the Kossakowski estate. All of the men were said to have lent more than moral support to the Russian cause instead of Polish independence. Kossakowski and Massalski were hung for it. Kossakowski's brother-in-law survived to become a Russian general after the war. The Russian support that Kossakowski and his brother-in-law gained, may have better secured the Lyakhovichi properties to Teresa Potocki Kossakowski, widow of Szyman, sister to Felix Potocki. She still owned the properties in 1805.

The city loses its role as a boundary post, it is now in the Russian Empire, far from the Western border.

1794 Syman Kossakowski was among those hanged for betraying the Polish government of Kosciusko to Russia, which may have helped his families claim to the lands around Lyakhovichi under Russian suzerainty after 1795.

1794 After 1805

Teresa Potocki Kossakowski

Widow of Syman Marcan Kossakowsky

It is not clear if the widow who owned Lyakhovichi ten years later in 1805 is Teresa Potocki Kossakowski or possibly a daughter-in-law. The owner is called “the widow of the elderman Kossakowsky.” Teresa was a member of the renowned Potocki family and materials about her and her husband may appear in their archives. Her brother, Felix Potocki, had taken rewards from Catherine the Great as a Polish General when he was supposed to be supporting the Polish government. After the final partition of Poland, her brother accepted the position of General in the Russian Army, so the owners of Lyakhovichi remained politically well-connected at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century.

“Land of the shtetl Lyakhovichi with country mansion, big villages and small village and two other Lyakhovichi villages - property of elderman Kossakovsky widow,“ appear on the 1805 map of Lyakhovichi

Important Notes about This Page

All names on this page were included in Surname Index Nov 2009

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Sapieha, owner of Lyakhovichi
Nikitin's "Portrait of a Lithuanian Hetman"
said to be Kazimir Jan Sapieha
owner of Lyakhovichi from 1665 until his death in 1720.

Articles on the History Pages:

History Key page including:
    Title Chain of the City of Lyakhovichi by Deborah G. Glassman
    Table of Grantors/Grantees; with Key events
    Illustrations - Paintings and drawings and photos of Title Owners, Lyakhovichi Castle, Kossakowski Manor, and more
Key Events in the Jewish Life of Lyakhovichi before the 19th Century also on this page:
    Table of Events 1387-1800
    The Kalte Shul by Alter Brevda
    The Shuls of Lechowitz by Alter Brevda
Historic Sites of Lyakhovichi






Privilege given by Vytaut in 1380, Confirmed by GDL 1502
Privilege given in 1380 by Vytaut, confirmed in 1502
This privilege dating from 1380 by Vytaut to a religious community (allowing them to establish both a settlement and farm lands remote to that settlement) is comparable to those that Kestutis and Vytaut offered to Tatars and Jews to settle in their cities. Though it was confirmed in 1502, the exact date of the original privilege was given, indicating that an original record was in existence at that time.



Vytaut the Great
Vytaut the Great
An artist's visualization of the founding father of Lithuania and Belarus during his reign from 1391-1432, the period to which both the Jewish and Moslem communities of Lyakhovichi, were dated.





Lithuanian Wooden Castle
Lithuanian wooden castle
This architectural reconstruction of a typical Lithuanian wooden castle may give us an indication of the wooden fortress that Marcin Gostautas had rebuilt in the 1460s. This is from the website of historian Tomas Baranauskas, "Medieval Lithuania - Wooden Castles" at

1492 Privilege from Alexander of Lithuania
1492 Privilege from Alexander Grand Duke of Lithuania
Alexander gave Albert Marcin Gostautis the privilege to hold fairs in Lyakhovichi the same year that he gave this privilege to the townspeople of Vilnius to not pay custom duties on the local rivers


artist's image of Albert Gostautas
Albert Gostautas
This artist's image of Albert Gostautas in his role as Chancellor of the Lithuanian Sejm was drawn for a history of the Lithuanian Sejm
Dail. Janina Malinauskaite. Drobe, aliejus. 2001 Paveikslas pristatytas Seime 2003 m. vasario 16 d.



Barbara Radziwill
Barbara Radziwill, widow of Stanislas Gostautas
Her first husband's death without children and her own death shortly into her marriage to King Sigismund Augustus of Poland, transferred Lyakhovichi into the hands of the monarchy.



Sigismund Augustus
Sigismund Augustus, King of Poland
He received Lyakhovichi and many other properties from his deceased wife's estate. He transferred Lyakhovichi to the head of his Armies and in compensation received a city less key to the fortifications of the nation in exchange




Jan Karol Chodkiewicz
Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, Great Hetman of Lithuania Remembered by the Polish-Lithuanian Republic as the Hero of Chocim, where in 1621, he forced the many times larger Turkish army to withdraw their troops. He inherited Lyakhovichi from his father who had begun its rehabilitation as a military fortification.



Lev Sapieha
Lev Sapieha
One of the leading figures of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Grand Chancellor and Great Hetman. His young daughter-in-law, Anna Scholasyka Chodkiewicz, died before him and his son inherited the Chodkiewiecz properties, including Lyakhovichi. But his son was not well and had no children, so Lev transfered many properties to another son.


Lyakhovichi Castle in 1654
From the Belarus State Archive of Scientific and Technical Documentation: it was built in this form by Hetman Jan Chodkewiecz, on the banks of the Vedzma river. It was artificially surrounded by a water channel with a dam to control the depth of the water. The castle was destroyed in the Great Northern war ending in 1721. Note from the webmaster -It started as a classic Lithuanian hill fort, built at a date that preceeded Kestautis and his son Vytaut the Great. It was updated to the latest standards in defense fortifications repeatedly in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, and then differently, updated to the high residential standards of the Polish nobility in the time of the seventeenth century Sapiehas. They also built the nearby Sapieha palace in this same time period and both residences had ornate rooms, well-appointed libraries, and professional architects attending to the design.


 Pawel Jan Sapieha
Pawel Jan Sapieha
Hetman of Lithuania; Owner of Lyakhovichi, used Lyakhovichi castle as one of his primary residences. Had Lyakhovichi released from the king's taxes 1661-1670.



Kazimierz Jan Sapieha
Kazimierz Jan Sapieha
A second portrait in an older style, than that at the top of this page of the same man. Grand Hetman of Lithuania. Active in Lyakhovichi life. Had taxes remitted for the town of Lyakhovichi from 1670 to 1679. His politics led to an uprising against him by other nobles and the purposeful weakening of Lyakhovichi's defenses by his enemies as the Swedish war was about to begin. The city and its fort were captured for the first time since the Middle Ages, and his castle burned.



Michael Josef Massalski
Michael Jozef Massalski

His daughter-in-law Krystina Rose Sapieha transfered the town of Lyakhovichi and its fortress to Massalski to aid in his attempt to consolidate defensive positions that could be used to hold back Russia as the war with the three empires of Europe that would partition Poland, became imminent.



Ignacy Massalski
Ignacy Massalski
Bishop of VIlna, political partisan of the Russians against constitutional government of Poland. He arranged transfer of Lyakhovichi to his ally General Syman Marcan Kossakowski, Hetman of Lithuania.



Simon Marcan Kossokowski
Simon Marcan Kossokowski
Great Hetman of Lithuania. He managed to acquire Lyakhovichi for his personal estate as he defrauded the Polish-Lithuanian government to trust him with its defense. He was of the party that supported Russia against his own nation and eventually, he and fellow conspirators were hanged by the Polish-Lithuanian Republic in its last days before Russia moved in against them.



The Kossakowski estate in Lyakhovichi before WWI Kossakowski Manor house in Lyakhovichi
as drawn shortly before WWI

When a map of our area was drawn in 1805, the widow of the Elderman Kossakowski was in possession of the manor house and estate. The manor house passed to her children, or to relatives who also carried the name Kossakowski.