Uladzimir Padalinski. Political elite of the Lida district in the last third of the 16th century

The article provides a pattern of analysis of personal composition of political elite at local level (on a sample of Lida district), its social and property status, family and cliental relations of its representatives, as well as the ways of entering (channels of recruiting to) the elite group. The level of political culture and consciousness of the top representatives of Lida gentry corporation is also reflected by the author. By local political elite the author means a group of people who possessed real power and recognition in the district, who actively participated in social and political life and influenced decision-making both at local and state level.

The author concludes that in the last third of the sixteenth century the political elite of the Lida district was mostly composed of local petty gentry, and in a much lesser extent — of middle gentry. Such noble families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) as Aliakhnovič, Valčkovič, Douhird, Zawiša, Lukomski, Radziwill, Skinder, Traciak, Tryzna, Jundzill families were widely represented in the local elite. One group of the Lida elite took part in social and political life primarily at the state level, another group was mostly present at the local level, and the third group combined those two levels.

The author asserts that the channels of recruiting to the regional elite group were determined by the origin, family relations, personal skills, military service, and — in a greater extent—were influenced by favoritism. Lida gentry were greatly influenced by the GDL magnates, primarily by Radziwills of the Biržai family. It was caused both by the overwhelming domination of magnates over gentry in social and economic terms, and by a certain frustration of local gentry by the King’s policy and by the institute of the General Diet (Valny Sojm). Nevertheless, political culture and consciousness of the Lida local gentry was dynamic and in a process of constant development. This was influenced by the reforms in the GDL in the middle of 1560s, formation of the Commonwealth and common parliamentary institutions, which introduced the experience of political struggle of polish gentry, as well as political experience gained during the periods of interregna. As for the ethnic origin or religious orientation, those factors did not influence the opportunity for gentry to enter the local political elite.