Lithuanian Borderland in 1609: View from Smlensk Chancellery
1. Early Modern Russian-Lithuanian Borderland is good studied. Its trace is the best investigated one among the borderlines of Muscovia. The case of the Russian–Lithuanian borderline was the basis of important theoretical reconstruction (by M. Krom and also A. Frolov) in the sphere of the appearance of borders as signs of Early Modern states. In the same time the gradually annexation of border Porechje and Schuchje districts by Lithuanians in 1609 was very similar to the processes in Gomel’-Starodub borderland happened a century earlier (been studied by V. Temushev).
2. The Smolensk Chancellery Archives is one of “divided archives” like Novgorod Ockupationsarkivet and Tikhvin arkivet (other two collections from Muscovia gathered in Swedish National Archives). The Smolensk collection like the Novgorod one is the random sampling of local regular day-to-day documentation unknown in the local chancelleries of other Muscovite towns
3. The “Smolensk collection” is the day-to-day acts from the sieged (since august 1609) city but it also includes acts from the time immediately before the siege. The documents on the borderline guarding and border transfer in spring and summer 1609 are under consideration; also the documents of the first weeks after king Sigismund III coming up to Smolensk. The borderline deeds include the correspondence between Smolensk governors and border officers, acts of building the fortifications, also notes from Lithuania. The reports from the border were of syncretic character: local inhabitants immediately complained about violence from the Lithuanian authorities who had supposed them to be spies and informed the Smolensk authorities about Lithuanian troops moving.
4. The clashes on Velizh border started in March 1609 were not an immediate reaction of Lithuanians on the Muscovite-Swedish alliance. The documents described it like a set of border attacks ordinary for 15-17th century borderland. Mutual prosecutions in treachery proclaimed by court peasants, oath to “Velizh pan” made those peasants firstly traitors, then – “Lithuanians”. Not only brothers Gosiewskis but also Muscovite traitors Khripunovs were the initiators of that borderland war.
In 1609 in Smolensk chancellery documents new concepts appeared, characteristic for the Time of Troubles. The concepts “betray”, “deserters” belong to the image of “the own” like “the other” appeared during the Civil war of 17th century: in the discourse of acts, in political and social senses.