Butautas of Lithuania was born circa 1346 to Kęstutis (c1297-1382) and died 7 August 1380 Prague, Czech Republic of unspecified causes.

St. Thomas Church in Prague, a burial place of Butautas

Butautas or Butaw (baptized Henryk; died on May 7, 1380 in Prague) was a son of Kęstutis, Grand Duke of Lithuania. He attempted to depose his uncle Algirdas and usurp power in Lithuania, but failed and was forced into exile. He joined the court of the Holy Roman Emperor and even inspired a poem about conversion to Christianity. Butautas is sometimes confused with his brother Vaidotas.[1]

First written record about Butautas comes from Jan Długosz. The historian describes Lithuanian raids into Masuria in 1336 and mentions Butautas, son of Gediminas. Because of mixed fathers, this information is not considered reliable.[2] First reliable data comes from summer of 1365. Algirdas and Kęstutis were in Volhynia helping their brother Liubartas when Butautas together with other nobles attempted coup d'état.[3] However, the plans were discovered by Dirsūnas, deputy of Vilnius. Butautas was arrested, but his accomplice Survila rescued him and killed Dirsūnas.[4] The coup failed and Butautas, Survila, and fifteen followers had to flee to the State of the Teutonic Order. Historian S. C. Rowell questioned whether the coup really happened as it is mentioned only in a late German source.[5] There Butautas was baptized as Henryk in honor of the Commander of Insterburg in Köningsberg on July 25, 1365.[4] Two Bishops, John of Warmia and Bartholomew of Sambia were summoned for the ceremony, also attended by English crusaders, including Earl of Warwick and Thomas Ufford.[5] In August he led a Teutonic raid deep into Lithuania reaching as far as Vilnius and Vilkmergė.[3] During the 12-day raid Kernavė and Maišiagala were devastated.

Sometime between August 1366 and April 1368 Butautas departed to Prague to join the court of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. Survila remained with the Knights. Charles gifted Butautas with lands and a noble title of duke (Herzog).[2] Butautas is mentioned as a witness to several treaties and companion to the emperor on several trips, including one to Italy to pope Urban V.[4] He witnessed imperial charters issued in Modena, Lucca (Golden Bull of 1356), Rome, Udine, Prague, Tangermünde, and Jerichow. This last charter listed Butautas as king of Lithuania together with imperial family and before papal legates and other Bohemian dukes.[5] At some time the court was visited by German poet Schondoch, who later composed a poem how an unnamed "Lithuanian king" was converted into Christianity.[2] Clarles died in 1378. Just two years later Butautas died in Prague and was buried in St. Thomas' Church. In 1413 his brother Vytautas the Great ordered Requiem Mass and gifted the church with a large carpet. Because of this activity sometimes 1413 is given as Butautas' date of death.[4]

It is known that Butautas left one son, Vaidutis, in Lithuania. He also emigrated to the west in 1381 at the age of sixteen.[6] After his father's death he studied in Paris until 1387. He returned to Poland and in 1401 his cousin Jogaila, King of Poland, appointed him as the rector of the Jagiellonian University. He died in 1422.[6]

See also

  • Gediminids
  • House of Kęstutis – family tree of Butautas


  1. ^ Rowell, C. S. (1994). Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series. Cambridge University Press. xxxiii. ISBN 978-0-521-45011-9. 
  2. ^ a b c Simas Sužiedėlis, ed (1970–1978). "Butautas". Encyclopedia Lituanica. I. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 443–444. LCCWp globe tiny.gif 74-114275. 
  3. ^ a b (Lithuanian) Vytautas Spečiūnas, ed (2004). "Butautas". Lietuvos valdovai (XIII-XVIII a.): enciklopedinis žinynas. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. pp. 77. ISBN 5-420-01535-8. 
  4. ^ a b c d (Lithuanian) Šapoka, Adolfas (1936). "Butautas". In Vaclovas Biržiška. Lietuviškoji enciklopedija. 4. Kaunas: Spaudos Fondas. pp. 1198–1200. 
  5. ^ a b c Rowell, S. C. (June 1996). "Unexpected Contacts: Lithuanians at Western Courts, c. 1316–c. 1400". English Historical Review 111 (442): 567–570. ISSN 0013-8266. 
  6. ^ a b Simas Sužiedėlis, ed (1970–1978). "Vaidutis". Encyclopedia Lituanica. VI. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 21. LCCWp globe tiny.gif 74-114275. 


Offspring of Butautas of Lithuania and unknown parent
Name Birth Death Joined with
Vaidutis (c1365-1422)


Footnotes (including sources)


NAME Butautas
DATE OF DEATH May 7, 1380
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