Hienadź Sahanovič. Polack and the German colony on the Dźvina.

Interrelations between Polack and the German colony founded on the Dzvina in the thirteenth century have not been yet studied specially. In the synthetic works on the history of Belarus and Polack Principality as well in the soviet historiography in general, the Germans are shown as invaders and relations between them and Polack are characterized as exclusively hostile. Meanwhile, the analysis of the only source of information on the problem — the chronicle of Henricus Lettus — gives an evidence that such kind of interpretation is not rightful. Uladzimir, Prince of Polack, permitted to the first bishop Meinhard to start Roman Catholic mission in the lands of the Livs dependent on him. It follows from the chronicle that relations between them were amicable. Conflicts began in the times of Albert after the German Order had settled in the mouth of the Dzvina. Twice Uladzimir tried to return lost positions there but he didn’t succeed in it. It is significant that Albert did not carry out any campaign to Polack lands. Vassal to Polack Kukenoys and Gercike situated in lands of the Livs and the Latgalls went over to the bishop’s power not so in a violent as in a lawful way. The Prince of Polack didn’t defend his protectorate over them. It looks that Polack and Riga  were equally interested in good relations. In 1210 and 1212 «eternal peace» was signed between them which provided for joint defence against Lithuania and «free way» for merchants along the Dzvina. The same treaty was renewed in 1223 and in 1229 it came to a special trade treaty between Smalensk, Polack, Vitebsk from one side and Riga with a number of German towns from the other. The Dzvina being the most important trade arterial water way influenced greately the policy of Polack and Riga. Their relations were determined by their interests in mutually beneficial trade. In this sense  Polack advantageously differed from Pskov and Novgorod which waged wars  with Inflants almost uninterruptedly from 1216-17.

The interpretation of relations between Polack and the Germans in the first third of the thirteenth century as exclusively hostile reflected an unaware transfer of clichй of Pan–Slavonic ideology to Belarusian historiography.